Using the Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) System

Polytron’s safety manager, Casey Alcala, stays apprised of any changes in the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) standards, as well as the National Fire Protection Association’s Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace (NFPA 70E). He continues to work on making sure that Polytron’s employees are as safe as possible, and aware of risks and potential hazards when working at a client’s manufacturing facility.

Work Environment Safety Hazard Awareness

Manufacturing environments operate using different types of power that might include; pneumatic, electrical, steam, and hydraulic power, just to name a few.  As a contracted vendor partner, our engineers might encounter any of these types of power, or even see an open electrical panel during a walkthrough of the work place.  The objective is for this to trigger the Safety training that they have been given, helping them to understand the potential for personal danger that exists.  Many manufacturing workplace accidents that cause injury to employees are accidents that they were not responsible for, but are just in a dangerous area that they are not fully aware of.

When Polytron prepares to go into a plant to do work on software, equipment or electrical panels, or are going to be around others that are completing the work, we first make sure that we have taken the steps necessary to determine the level of personal danger that will be present, and all of the different power sources that are associated with the work environments. We then take the proper steps possible to mitigate our exposure to any situations that could cause injury to us or others.

Polytron’s Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) Procedure

We developed a Polytron Safety Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) procedure, which is the keystone to ensuring our personal safety. Each member of the Polytron team has been given his/her own individual key and lock when they have successfully completed the required Polytron Safety training. Having a lock with only one (1) key provides an extra layer of protection, ensuring you are the only one with the ability to remove your lock. You are also given a hasp (which allows for 6 individual locks to be attached) that allows for multiple locks to be placed on a power source, giving you the ability to protect yourself and not rely on others for protection.
In addition to the Polytron Safety-based training, our teams also receive Client-Specific onsite Training. We receive training and instruction on site-specific practices and regulations that are based on the work environments that pertain to our work.  Since many of our clients are in the food and beverage industry, we may receive additional instructions that are requirements in their manufacturing areas such as:

  • Glass containers prohibited on plant floors
  • No items can be worn/stored on body above the waist, including writing utensils
  • Hair nets must be worn at all times (including mustache and beard nets if appropriate)

Personal plant safety for Polytron engineers begins with our safety training and the awareness of the hazards together with the right Personal Protection Equipment. Our training in action starts when they set foot on the manufacturer’s property.

Lockout/Tagout is the keystone of personal safety. This standard protocol for engineering teams in the workplace is the system that ensures that any employee conducting repair work on manufacturing equipment will have control over any and all power sources.

Performing LOTO at the manufacturing site consists of four (4) individual steps, to ensure a safe work environment.

First Step – Lock It

The first step is “Lock it” – which includes (but is not limited too) these steps;

  • Turn off the machine or equipment being serviced
  • This includes identifying and turning off “ALL” sources of energy/power
  • Once this is completed, “De-energize” all stored energy/power from equipment
  • Place your LOTO hasp & lock on “ALL” the disconnecting means

Once all sources of energy/power are identified and turned off, stored energy/power could still be present to cause injury.

  • Electrically, the sources could be compositors, or resistors.
  • Pneumatically, these could consist of lifts; shelf’s or forklifts being left in the “load/engaged” position.  As time passes these pieces of equipment can and do bleed pressure, which could cause the load to fall on you or others, causing injuries.

Because there could be multiple sources of energy present on any equipment being serviced, Polytron supplies all the additional means of Lockout that might be needed.  This also includes chains that can be used to lock out valves that feed water or steam energy to equipment.

Second Step – Tag It

The second step is “Tag it” – which includes (but is not limited too) these steps;

  • Each lock will have “Danger Locked Out Do Not Remove” on one side
  • Property of: on the reverse side
  • Top Line: Polytron
  • Middle Line: Employee Name
  • Bottom Line: Polytron Provided Phone Number

This provides the information needed by others in case of questions or emergencies that might arise.

Third Step – Try It

The third step is “Try it” – which includes (but is not limited too) these steps;

  • Verifying the equipment/system has been totally de-energized
  • Operating the equipments controls
  • Using proper test equipment
  • Verifying, using proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Operating the equipment controls verifies that your LOTO device have prevented accidental operation of the power source, to re-energize the equipment while you are in the danger zone.  You still have to treat the equipment as “energized” until you test it with the proper test equipment, while wearing the proper PPE equipment.  When the LOTO has been confirmed by test equipment, then the PPE can be removed and you can approach the equipment safely.

Fourth Step – Re-energize the Equipment

The final Step is to “Re-energize the equipment” – which includes (but is not limited too) these steps;

  • Conduct tests and visual inspections on equipment
  • Warn others
  • Remove your Lock and Tag
  • Visually conduct a follow up check
  • Find a qualified person to physically re-energize the equipment

The visual inspections are to ensure that no tools, devices or materials have been left in the area, ensuring that upon re-energizing the equipment they do not become dangerous objects.  Warning others, allows the people in the area, and the machine/equipment operators, to be ready for the equipment to come back online.  And of course you’re not finished until your personal lock is removed from the equipment.

By strictly following our safety standards, we ensure our employees are protected and they create a safe environment for the client during our project.