Harvest is a time when many different types of powered equipment will be used and will need to be serviced and repaired. If you’re the person responsible for servicing or repairing a piece of equipment, you want that “peace of mind” knowing that nobody could accidently startup the equipment while you’re working on it. There is only one way to assure your safety and the safety of employees…. that is with a Lockout-Tagout (LOTO) program.
LOTO is a safety and communications procedure that protects workers by letting people know when not to restore power. This procedure removes “all doubt” and prevents other employees from unintentionally restoring power that can threaten a life or cause irreversible damage.
Lockout – as the word implies, literally locks the power-source mechanism from being physically turned on or energized. That means with an actual padlock in as many cases as possible. Each “authorized” employee should have their own “identifiable” set of lock and keys. As stated above LOTO is about communication, so to avoid confusion, employees should never use each other’s devices. Go to your safety supplier and locate LOTO supplies. There are LOTO stations that provide locking devices, padlocks with keys and warning tags. Regardless of the investment, these tools are worth the peace of mind as it prevents placing workers in life threatening danger.
Tagout – tags are used in tandem with locks as a warning device. Again it’s about communication and tags provide a warning message as well as additional information such as name, date, expected completion, etc. When locks are not possible for use, the warning tag is safety-critical. Make sure is it visible, can withstand the environment and secure so it cannot be easily removed. It is not uncommon to use multiple tags to adequately communicate the warning message.
PLAN: If you have a LOTO plan, take time to review it before harvest with all employees and check your supplies so there is plenty to last through harvest. Identify and review mechanisms that will require LOTO devices.
NO PLAN: If you don’t have a LOTO plan, start now to do your research on developing and instituting a written plan before harvest. Acquire the supplies you’ll need to effectively protect employees. Then train employees on LOTO procedures and identify equipment that will require LOTO protection.
LOTO is about effective communication and procedures are safety-critical. Take no short cuts to save time, have the discipline to follow procedures every time…your coworkers and their families will certainly appreciate it.