Lock Out Tag Out – Best Practices for Isolation

Lock Out Tag Out is an isolation safety procedure that prevents machinery from being used when it is in a dangerous state, protecting workers who may come into contact with it or those carrying our maintenance or repair work.

While not officially covered by health and safety regulations in the UK, which instead follows the BS 7671 Requirements for Electrical Installations, Lock Out Tag Out is considered to be a best practice.

What is Lock Out Tag Out Procedure?

Locks for lock out tag out procedureA Lock Out Tag Out procedure is meant to protect workers against the dangers created by live machinery if they have to carry out repairs, replacements and maintenance work. There are seven steps in the process:

  1. Preparation: plan and prepare the shut down procedure. Where does the energy come from? How powerful is the system? The idea behind this step is that all the risks are accounted for in order to protect the workers.
  2. Notification: inform anyone, such as workers or supervisors, who may be affected by the shut down of machinery. Make sure everyone knows what’s going to happen!
  3. Shut-Down: turn off all equipment.
  4. Lock Off: lock all energy sources in the safe/off position with lockout devices like padlocks to make sure no one can switch the electricity back on before the works have finished.
  5. Test: test all the machine controls to check that it is completely isolated from electricity.
  6. Repair or rework: carry out the works.
  7. Return to service: when works are finished, remove all lockout devices and switch on machinery/equipment. Warn all workers before switching on the machines and ensure that everyone is at a safe distance.

When should a Lock Out Tag Out procedure be used?

Lock Out Tag Out procedures should be used whenever maintenance or repair work is done on or within the radius of industrial machinery and equipment. It should also be used if workers have to attend to another item within the area of these machines where they could potentially be exposed to harmful consequences. This is important because heavy machinery could easily kill or injure someone if it is switched on during repair work.

This could be on a construction site where new houses are being built, in a factory where the equipment needs to be repaired – anywhere that people need to work near these dangerous items. The machinery might not just harm the person carrying out the repair work but anyone nearby as well!

What do the BS 7671:2018 Requirements for Electrical Installations cover?

Instructions for isolating an electrical unit as described in the textThe BS 7671:2018 regulations apply to the design, erection and verification of electrical installations and also any additions or alterations to existing installations. This means that the regulations also cover isolation.

Isolation is defined in BS 7671 as: “A function intended to cut off, for reasons of safety, the supply from all, or a discrete section, of the installation by separating the installation or section from every source of electrical energy.”

To safely isolate an electrical circuit, follow these steps:

  1. Select an approved tester: the HSE guide GS38 can help you pick.
  2. Inspect the tester and check it’s not damaged.
  3. Prove that the tester works on a known live supply or proving unit.
  4. Identify the circuit to be isolated, ask permission and inform anyone who might be affected.
  5. Turn off the circuit breaker.
  6. Attach the lock off device, label/padlock and ensure the key is removed.
  7. Check the circuit is dead.
  8. Check the tester is still working.

How can WA Management help?

WA Management offer a Lock Out Tag Out online training course suitable as part of an induction process or as refresher training. Find out more here!

PPE and Lock Out Tag Out training courses are essential tools in protecting your workers from hazards in the work place. Make sure you don’t miss out on our 10% off deal on these courses, available until the end of March. Simply enter the code ‘ppe10’ at checkout to save!

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