Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO) is a safety process implemented to isolate and protect personnel from hazardous sources of energy.
Most people have encountered LOTO in relation to electricity, however it is equally applicable to any other hazardous energy source that could cause harm to people, equipment or the environment. i.e mechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic, stored kinetic energy (i.e gravity, pressure and temperature) as well as energy stored in flammable fluids or chemicals.
There is currently no legislated process in Australia for the LOTO system. Standard practices exist, however are likely to vary between different projects and across different sites.
The following 4 important points will help your team to navigate what can often seem like an over complicated process and help works progress safely and efficiently with any LOTO system.
1 – Planning – Requirements for boundary isolations are often only identified once a clear understanding of work scope has been established. Good planning is the cornerstone for all projects, however is vital to keep works progressing and is an important precondition before mobilising for site works (refer previous blog). Last minute changes can often have long lasting impacts.
2 – Competency – Works (including planning) on or around equipment having sources of energy should only be performed by trained and competent personnel. Potential hazards need to be understood along with suitable methods for control. A designated LOTO system is often accompanied by an assessment process to ensure the right people are involved with planning (ie often designated Permit Requestor) and are performing the subsequent permitted work (ie often designated as Authorised Employees).
3 – Communication – In most cases, LOTO is accompanied by a Permit To Work issued by an associated Permit team. Adequate timeframe for review and approval should be provided to the Permit team. During planning, coordination of works with other stakeholders not directly involved in the task is critical. Once LOTO is in place, any associated works should be clearly understood and briefed to all team members directly involved with the work or who are working at the isolation boundary points. A walkthrough of the isolation boundaries should be conducted and any queries or concerns openly discussed and resolved.
4 – Ownership – A fundamental element of LOTO process is for all involved to take ownership for the task. No assumptions should be made, isolations should be safely interrogated to ensure locks have been installed correctly (i.e locked open and no possibility of closure). Locks should be clearly marked and tracked, with identification details readily available.
Irrespective of project or how LOTO is implemented, all personnel involved should know the process, understand the hazards, avoid making any assumptions and openly discuss concerns.
The above considerations should help avoid confusion and maximise safety and efficiency on your next project. Contact the team 1300 360 545.
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