118. Idea – Lockout Tagout Transcript

Jonathan: 00:00 

You know, a lot of people might complain about how long or how elaborate these lockout tagout procedures are. And like you mentioned earlier, you got to fill out paperwork, you’ve got to talk to someone and you got to get your lock. You got to put the lock on, you got to do all these steps to verify it, but at the end of the day, that extra time is always going to be worth it if you are safe and you’re alive and not injured you can’t really put a time limit, on something like that. 

Chris: 00:24

 Welcome to EECO Asks Why a podcast that dives into industrial manufacturing topics, spotlights zeroes to keep America running. I’m your host, Chris Grainger. And on this podcast, we do not cover the latest features and benefits on products that come to market, instead, we focus on advice and insight from the top minds of industry because people and ideas will be how America remains number one in manufacturing in the world. 

Welcome to EECO Asks Why and today we’re going to be talking about lockout tagout, what is that system, why is it important and what are some of the best practices in industry that we should consider today? Walking through this topic with us is Mr. Jonathan Fuller product manager out of South Carolina, Jonathan welcome.

Jonathan: 01:10 

Hey, thanks for having me.

Chris: 01:12 

Hope you’re doing good today, man.

Jonathan: 01:14 

Not too bad. And yourself? 

Chris: 01:15 

Oh it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. So let’s just start walking through lockout – tagout. So when you hear that, that, that term lockout tagout or LOTO, what comes to mind? 

Jonathan: 01:27 

 I mean, so the first thing that comes to mind when someone tells me that iS, you know, I picture a big lock on, on a device that’s keeping it locked out and keeping everybody safe. 

Chris: 01:38 

Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, to me when I hear this, it’s all about safety and personnel and having people, our heroes go home at the end of the day. Right. No matter what equipment they’re working on.

So when we talk about, hazardous energy, there’s a lot of different things out there that can hurt our heroes, what are some of the energies that, that we need to be aware of when it comes to the lockout tagout program? 

Jonathan: 02:02  

So I mean especially in our field of work here in the electrical industry, the most common one that everybody thinks of is electrical energy um, that can be the cause of, safety concerns, but there’s actually a whole lot of other ones that a lot of people don’t even think about like a chemical or, some big ones like hydraulic and mechanical or pneumatic energy as well. And then, you know, there was thermal and some other different ones, but those are some of the biggest ones.

Chris: 02:26 

I hadn’t even considered that and we were talking about this topic and setting it up for our listeners together. I always just default because the electrical background working for EECO and the people, we typically work with in industry just default to electrical, but the more you think about it, I mean, our heroes are working on a lot of equipment that could hurt them mechanically or, as you mentioned from a pneumatic or thermal hydraulics. Those are all important things to consider for a lockout tagout program, you know. Maybe give us a little examples of what a typical lockout tagout in an industrial environment looks like.

Jonathan: 03:02 

Yeah. So, I mean, you’re going to have, you know, at your facility or something, you’ve got a machine or a press or something like that, that you need to go work on cause it’s, it needs its routine maintenance or it’s down because of some issue that’s had. There’s six steps that OSHA defines as part of lockout tagout.

So the first step is going to be preparation. You need to identify, all right, this is the machine that has the issue. This is what we’re going to do. And you should have a written procedure for your lockout tagout, as well as kind of your plan of work and things like that.

And so then after that, you’re going to also, during that preparation phase, you’re going to identify what’s something OSHA defines as an authorized employee. Um, so that’s going to be the person that actually is going to be doing the work on the machine and working on this procedure as well as you’re going to have a team leader that’s somebody that’s going to manage the whole procedure and manage the authorized employees that are working on it.

And then your next step is going to be the actual shutdown. So you’re going to go in and once you’ve identified all the different kinds of sources that are feeding that machine you’re going to go in and shut those down. So you’ll, you’ll open your breakers or things, valves, things like that. 

Once you’ve shut down that piece of equipment. Step three is isolation. So that’s going to, again, step two and step three, go hand in hand that you’re going to isolate that machine from any kind of energy sources the most common electrical, whereas also pneumatic or hydraulic, things like that.

So once you do that step four is going to be the actual lockout tagout. So that’s where you’re going to have your padlock as well as you’re going to have a tag. And so this tag usually is metal. And it’s going to go through that lock off in a breaker. And it’s going to have several places to be able to attach a padlock to. Everybody that has a lock on that machine. You’re gonna write your name on that tag. And when there’s locks in place, you cannot open that tag to be able to access that breaker. 

So then you’re going to go through step five which is going to be a stored energy check. So you’re going to go in and make sure that there’s no hazardous energy still stored inside that machine, whether it be in a capacitor or a things like that. And if you do find it, you’re going to make sure that you either relieve that hazardous energy by discharge, or you’re going to make sure that it’s restrained or disconnected.

 Then the final check is an isolation and verification. So that last step is just that double check. You’ve gone in, and you’ve relieved that incident, energy hazardous energy, you’ve done things like that and then make sure that it’s all locked out, tagged out. Now you’re just going behind yourself and double checking to make sure that it is a hundred percent safe for you to be able to go in and work on.

Chris: 05:42 

Okay. So that’d be, sometimes I’ve been in plants and you’ve seen ,you know, the posters and inside the safety areas and things like that lockout, tagout, try out. So is that last step that tryout verification? 

Jonathan: 05:54 

Yeah, absolutely. So you want to verify that piece of equipment that you’re working on can not be energized by any means?

Chris: 06:01 Okay. So when should we consider lockout tagout? That would mean at what point for any maintenance in the plant? 

Jonathan: 06:08  

You know, there’s different, people have different opinions, but in my opinion, you know, safety is key. And, at the end of the day, you want everybody to be able to go home to their families. So anytime you’re working on any kind of equipment that can be energized by electricity or any other of those means that we talked about earlier, definitely want to do lockout tagout. 

 Chris: 06:28 

Right now, when you’re doing this lockout tagout, can you have more than one person participate in lockout tagout on a single piece of equipment?

Jonathan: 06:38 

Yeah, absolutely. If you’ve got more than just one person working, if you’re working on a large press or  , a whole line of something, a printing press or a extruder or something that’s going to be a large line. Yeah, you definitely are going to have more than one person working on that.

As well as like in that team leader. So every person that’s working on the piece of equipment authorized employee, as well as the team leader is going to have a lock on that tag. So you want to make sure that you have adequate number of locks and following that one, lock one key, one person rule.

Chris: 07:10 

Very good. I’m glad you hit it. That one lock one key one person. So what happens if at the end of the shift, somebody forgets to remove that lock and that equipment needs to start back up. What typically happens in that process? 

Jonathan: 07:24 

The most common thing and defined by OSHA is that lock has to be destroyed. So the most common thing is honestly just a pair of bolt cutters. So you’re going to go. You know, if you can verify that the machine is ready to be started and that there’s nobody still working on it, and you verify that employee just went home and forgot to remove his lock or he’s exited the building and forgotten to move his lock. Then you can actually just take a pair of bolt cutters and cut that lock off and destroy it per the OSHA standards. And then you just have to reissue, a new lock, a new key to that person. 

Chris: 07:55 

Absolutely. Absolutely. And Jonathan, I have some experience here. We used to have a service arm at EECO.

We would go do, you know, preventative maintenance on large, large motors and things like that. And it, lockout tagout was something we had to learn, had to learn on the fly a lot of times did cause every plant seems like they have different nuances to their lockout tagout. Some want contractors to have certain color locks only, some of them want their names on them and things like that.

And we’ve actually had an instance where, you know, at the end of the day, the employee forgot to take their lock off and, that causes a lot of stress, you know, that equipment needs to come back up and all of a sudden whose lock is this and, verifying, okay, okay, this is this person’s lock. They’re not here right now. You have to go through that whole validation that, “Hey, they are effectively not on the property anymore.” So it is safe to take those bolt cutters, like you mentioned, and to get that lock off. And actually one thing from a best practice standpoint that we had to start doing was if you have a contractor coming into your facility and they have 10 guys that are coming in to work on their equipment, there’s one point person for that group of 10. And the way we did it was, there was a separate little system to validate at the end of the job that each one of those locks had been pulled off. So that equipment could start back up. And that saved us. We were able to catch it several times. 

If you had that one foreman who was over a set group of individuals, they can catch it cause nobody’s doing this on purpose. Nobody wants to leave a lock on a piece of equipment at the end of the day. And intentionally screw up something, but just know that little step was a big one for us from a learning standpoint to get better at the lockout tagout procedure. So that’s just one story or an instance that, that I kind of want to share while we were on this topic, and Jonathan, what are some ways that you’ve heard of or things that, where people get hurt when maybe they’re not using the right lockout tagout or, they’ve  , kind of side stepped this procedure if you will.

Jonathan: 10:09 

Yeah. So, I mean, lockout tagout, it’s there for a reason it’s been defined by OSHA, the governing body of health and safety in the United States. It’s meant to be followed and they’ve got those guidelines and, you bring up a great point in that every facility or every plant, every contractor, whomever is going have their own variation of that lockout tagout.

But at the end of the day, it should. Follow as closely as possible to those OSHA guidelines to keep everybody safe, but you know, if you’re not using lockout, tagout you could be working on a piece of equipment and somebody, Johnny overtort comes and looks at the breaker and says, “Oh, this breaker is off. Why is it off? It’s not supposed to be off.” He can come and flip that breaker and close that breaker wall. Somebody is working on a piece of equipment that can cause the equipment to become energized. And if you’re working on a press or, anything. That can cause electrical issues or it can cause, other kinds of hazardous energy issues that could result in serious injury or even death.

So that’s again, that’s, all the more reason to use lockout-tagout to let everybody know that, “Hey, this machine is down and being serviced,” one, but two more importantly, to prevent that accidental energization of that equipment. 

Chris: 11:21 

Absolutely. I think one thing I’d like to add here, Jonathan, for our listeners is that know if you’re listening and you’re working on equipment, you need to have your own lock. And I’ve seen people do this in plan so they go work behind someone else, you know, “I have it locked out, so you’re good.” “No, not really. I want a lock for Chris and you should have a lock for Jonathan,” right? And that way, we’re human mistakes happen. And oftentimes we harp on it on this show the safety is number one and a lot of times mistakes happen because we’re short on time or we have to fill out paperwork, we have to go talk to somebody versus I could just work on it, they’re locking this, get it done. Shortcuts aren’t what keeps America number one in manufacturing, doing it the right way. 

Jonathan: 12:06 

And who’s to say that, when Chris has done doing work on the equipment and he doesn’t realize that somebody else is working on the equipment, so he pulls his lock off cause he’s done. And then, the other person that’s working on it, they didn’t have their own lock. So, there’s no way of telling that and you know, not to mention you know the safety aspect, but it’s also just the peace of mind. If I’m working on a piece of equipment, I want to have the peace of mind of knowing that there’s no way that this piece of equipment can be energized until I’m physically done as well as everybody else.

So it’s just kind of peace of mind and assurance knowing that, “Hey, there’s no way of this accidentally being energized because I’m working on it and it’s got my lock on it.” 

Chris: 12:43 

You got that right, man. That was perfect. That was perfect. So let’s talk about the ownership of the lockout-tagout program, who typically owns that in facilities.

 Jonathan: 12:53 

So, you know, typically it’s going to be a little bit of, everybody’s going to be involved in that. Maintenance, especially and things like that as well as management, but it’s going to be those OSHA defined, authorized employees, as well as the team leader that are working on the machine they’re going to own it for that instance, but it’s kinda, it’s up to management and safety and maintenance to come up with that procedure for lockout tagout to implement it. So it revolves around almost everybody at a facility. 

Chris: 13:22 

Yeah, you’re right. You’re right. Safety typically takes to lead, the safety coordinators at the plants and things like that. One of the craziest ones I’ve, been involved with on site with industrial end-users is usually spent on to two industries and that’s power and pulp and paper. When they have outages and you go in those control rooms, you’ve seen those lockout boxes, and those boxes will have, just locks everywhere because typically, if you’re locking out a piece of equipment, you can’t really, there’s only so many spaces that you can actually physically put your lock.

So these, these boxes are laid out and you’re signing off on which box you’re putting your lock on. And that’s designated to the piece of equipment in the, in a plant. So just from a coordination and organization standpoint, it’s a lot to keep up with. So hats off to the heroes out there who have to manage these programs because hey, at every outage there’s a potential for somebody to get hurt. And that’s what these programs are designed to keep our heroes like you said earlier, Jonathan, we want to go home at the end of the day. And that’s what these programs are all about. 

So that I’ve seen some very elaborate ones out there. Down to some very simple ones where, it’s one lock on one breaker, that’s a very simple lockout, but you got a hundred people working on this piece of equipment. How are you going to lock that out? And that’s where these more elaborate schemes come in place. And keep everyone safe at all times. 

Jonathan: 14:53 

Yeah, absolutely. you know, A lot of people might complain about how long or how elaborate these lockout tagout procedures are. And like you mentioned earlier, you got to fill out paperwork, you’ve got to talk to someone and you got to get your lock. You got to put the lock on, you got to do all these steps to verify it, but at the end of the day, that extra time is always going to be worth it. If you are safe and you’re alive and not injured you can’t really put a time limit, on something like that. 

Chris: 15:18 

No, absolutely. Absolutely. Don’t cut corners here. If you’re listening, please this is, these were developed and they’re in place for a reason. That would be our advice for sure. So Jonathan EECO Asks Why we always like to get a Why in for every show, we’ve kind of walked all over this, but why is like a lockout tagout important to understand, and more importantly, to keep everyone safe that are in our plants?

Jonathan: 15:44 

Yeah, at the end of the day, safety is key. Safety should be the number one priority of everybody so. It’s in place for that very reason to keep everybody safe and send everybody home at the end of the day. So I that’s why it’s so important. 

Chris: 15:56 

Absolutely well Jonathan, we really enjoyed going through this topic.

This is a topic that’s pretty close to me because I see that this brings so much value to people. It’s keeping them safe out there and keeping our heroes safe, letting them go home at the end of the day. So I really appreciate you walking through this with us, the expertise that you brought to this topic. And again, I hope you have a great day. 

Jonathan: 16:19 

Thanks, Chris. You too. Thanks for having me.