Factories and other industrial facilities are full of safety hazards that can lead to all sorts of workplace injuries, ranging from mild to crippling to ultimately fatal. Many of these accidents are caused by non-compliance with lockout tagout procedures.
Lockout tagout refers to a set of procedures or a system that can help ensure workplace safety and minimize the number of workplace injuries. It ensures that potentially dangerous machines and equipment are completely and properly shut off before maintenance work begins.
OSHA established the Lockout Tagout Standard (1910.147) for the control of hazardous energy. To follow this standard, an employee has to take the necessary steps to prevent a machine or piece of equipment from turning back on while under maintenance.
This involves isolating the power source. More importantly, however, it involves a proper lockout tagout procedure that provides an extra level of security. This prevents other employees from turning on and operating the machine while it’s unsafe to do so.
Unfortunately, a significant number of workplace accidents and injuries stem from non-compliance with lockout tagout procedures and standards. A lockout tagout station can be instrumental in helping employees maintain a proper and compliant lockout tagout program that will effectively help keep the workplace safe.
What is a Lockout Tagout Station?
A lockout tagout station is basically a place in which all lockout tagout devices should be stored. As such, it should be able to accommodate all manner of lockout tagout devices, such as padlocks, keys, inspection tags, and hasps. It’s best if this station is easily visible and strategically placed in an easily accessible spot.
However, it’s also important to make sure that this station can be locked and secured. This will prevent improper use by unauthorized personnel, as well as the accidental loss or damage of any of the devices.
Benefits of a Lockout Tagout Station
Any facility that has to comply with the OSHA Lockout Tagout Standard (1910.147) will benefit from the use of a lockout tagout station. It functions as a hub that helps keep track of vital lockout tagout devices, which is already quite helpful. However, a lockout tagout station can offer a lot more.
A LOTO station will help standardize LOTO programs
A lockout tagout program will not only help with compliance but will also help prevent workplace injuries and fatalities. In fact, a formal lockout tagout program is an OSHA requirement.
Employees will also have to be properly trained to be able to execute the program. With the help of a lockout tagout station, employees will find it easier to stick to established routines. This will make them less likely to deviate from the steps of the program. This will ultimately prevent employees from operating machines that are under maintenance, thus keeping maintenance employees safe from any accidental release of energy.
The goals of a good lockout tagout program are simple, but it will likely involve many steps and procedures to achieve these goals. A lockout tagout station will be able to help employees follow these steps to the letter and with minimal confusion.
LOTO stations help keep track of all devices
Think of a lockout tagout station as something akin to a key holder. A key holder is where members of a household hang all their keys at the end of the day to make sure that they can always be found in one place. Organizing keys can prevent loss and can help maintain efficient routines. A lockout tagout station works in much the same way.
Lockout tagout devices are the tools that physically prevent the accidental release of energy and the accidental operation of machines under maintenance. They are not easily replaceable; there are OSHA guidelines that specify the kind of devices that should be used in lockout tagout procedures.
Thus, if a padlock gets lost or damaged, for example, it cannot be replaced by just any run-of-the-mill padlock from the hardware store. The same goes for other devices, such as hasps and inspection tags.
Because these devices are vital to keeping the workplace safe, they should also be stored in a secure place. Any damage or loss can be disruptive to routines and can delay important maintenance work. It can also be dangerous for maintenance employees.
LOTO stations help improve the efficiency of safety procedures
Having an organized storage spot for lockout tagout devices can also help employees work with the same machines without confusion. This can minimize and even prevent mistakes that can be harmful to maintenance workers.
Additionally, lockout tagout programs need to be machine-specific. This means that if a facility has a variety of machines, it cannot have just one lockout tagout program that encompasses all those machines. Each machine must have its own lockout tagout program, and the employees that work with and on that machine have to be well-trained in executing that specific program.
Having a lockout tagout station in strategic spots or in close proximity to a machine will help maintain machine-specific programs. It eliminates confusion, helps enforce routines, and helps employees remember their training better.
Stations vs Kits: How They Can Work Together
How do lockout tagout stations and kits differ from one another?
Both a station and a kit can function and be used separately. A lockout tagout station provides a static and reliable place to store standard devices. A lockout tagout kit, meanwhile, is simply a collection of different lockout tagout devices that serve different functions.
However, the devices in a kit can also replace the devices that are usually found in lockout tagout stations. In case any device is lost, damaged, or otherwise unusable, the devices in a lockout tagout kit can take its place.
Because OSHA guidelines also regulate the devices used in lockout tagout procedures, device replacements can’t just come from anywhere. Fortunately, having a kit on standby can help provide immediate solutions to any loss or damage.
Best Spots for Lockout Tagout Stations
Typically, a lockout tagout station is wall-mounted for easy and secure access. Because of the nature of a lockout tagout station and its functions, it’s best to install it in a strategic spot.
One option is to put the lockout tagout station somewhere central, in a spot that’s easily accessible to everyone that needs it. This placement is more ideal if the station stores devices that can be used on multiple machines.
Another option is to place the station right next to a machine, preferably in close proximity to the machine’s power source. This placement is best if the devices in that station are used for that specific machine only.
How Much Will A Lockout Tagout Station Cost You?
Lockout tagout stations don’t have to cost a lot of money to be effective and durable. A good lockout tagout station can set you back about $100 at least, but it won’t cost you more than $300, but this varies greatly depending on the size and range of products the station comes with. At these prices, you’ll get a set of various lockout tagout devices as well as a durable and lockable case for security and storage.
Establishing and improving lockout tagout procedures can help maintain workplace safety and prevent injuries. Lockout tagout stations can make compliance with OSHA standards and the execution of these safety procedures much easier.