Mastering Lockout Tag-out: A construction Safety Guide

Almost every worker has heard of lockout tag-out (LOTO),  But how many of us have truly stopped and took time to think about what it is and why it does exist?  In Canada, LOTO regulation, govern by CSA standard Z460 and regulation 91-191, sections 239 and 240, have a critical purpose: to ensure that workers not only return home from there jobs but do so safely, with all our limbs intact.  Lets delve into the importance of LOTO and why it is a zero-tolerance zone in workplace governed by WorkSafe standards.

The Zero-Tolerance Zone

WorkSafe regulation in Canada make it clear that LOTO is not just a suggestion – it’s a zero-tolerance requirement.  Simply put, if you are working beneath a vehicle and the keys are still in the ignition, the entire site could be shut down by any official.  This might seem strict, but it is essential for maintaining the safety of workers in high-risk industries like construction.

The components of LOTO protocol

The LOTO protocol comprises several essential components, each designed to ensure the safety of workers and the prevention of accidents during equipment maintenance or servicing:

  • Identification of equipment: this first step may seem simple but it is necessary to understand the machine and its associated energy sources.  Some equipment may have more than one sources and required there own locking mechanism to be applied.
  • Notification of affected personnel:  Peoples need to be aware of the LOTO protocol being put in place.  
  • Equipment shutdown and energy isolation: Before any maintenance work begin, the equipment must be shut down and its energy sources effectively isolated.  This may involve electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, and\or pneumatic energy sources.
  • Locking Mechanism installation:  Lockout devices, such as padlocks, are instal at energy isolation points.  Theses devices are designed to prevent accidental or unauthorized operation of the equipment.  One key component of the locking device is that only one key exist per lock so only the person who lock the equipment can remove the device.  Every person working on the equipment need to apply his own lock.
  • Label installation:  Lockout tags, attached to the lockout devices, provide critical information.  They include detail such as the name of the worker, the reason for lockout as well as time and date.  The tags also serve as a visual warnings to other not to restart the equipment.
  • Energy verification:  After the lockout is in place, it is essential to check that the equipment is effectively isolated and cannot be start.  Testing is performed to ensure there’s no residual energy that could lead to an accident.  Doing so is call de-energizing the equipment.  For example, when working on an hydraulic arm, the equipment may not start but there is still pressure in the system.  Every component need to be in a zero energy state.

Completing the cycle

When the maintenance, servicing or repair work is finish, the LOTO cycle concludes with these crucial steps:

  • Lock removal:  Only authorized personnel should remove a lockout device once the work is complete and it is safe to re-energize the equipment.  Remember, one lock per person.
  • Energy restoration:  Gradually restore energy to the equipment, following established startup procedures.

A lock is not to be cut – It is the key to success

A lock from a LOTO program is not just a physical barrier – it is a symbol of safety and commitment to protecting lives.  Is represents the dedication to ensuring that every worker returns home safely.  Remember, there’s only one key for success and you are the one owning it.