Three simple steps to lockout-tagout

Therese Dunphy

December 17, 2013


Three simple steps could protect workers when it comes to dealing with electrical equipment, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

  1. Lock out the energy source.
  2. Tag out the disconnecting device.
  3. Try out and test to ensure that power is off.

Failure to take the time to perform these three steps is one of the top five causes of all mining fatalities, MSHA reports.

In fact, reportable numbers in this area are grim. In the metal/non-metal sector, there have been 30 fatalities, six permanent disabilities, 257 lost-time injuries and 45 restricted day injuries during a 10-year window.

For added protection, consider these steps as well:

  • Before beginning lock out and tag out procedures, make sure all workers are aware of planned maintenance, and coordinate activities with other operators and contractors.

  • Set up barricades around affected equipment and post warning signs.

  • If there are multiple switches for shutdown, use the one closest to the equipment.

  • Do not use the disconnect switch to stop equipment. It could lead to arcing and could cause injury.

  • When disconnecting energy, stand to the side of the device and look away from it.

  • Consider additional protections such as a platform for wet conditions and insulated gloves.

  • Once electrically powered equipment is de-energized, power switches should be locked out.

  • A lock should be affixed to the disconnect switch rather than the start/stop switch.

  • Workers should never lock out on top of another’s lock.

  • Once the lock is in place, remove the key.

  • Personal keys should be carried by miners, while keys to system locks should be stored in a lock box.

  • Post a tag that identifies the worker performing the task.

For Aggregates Manager’s Operations Illustrated segment on lockout-tagout, click here.

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