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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a lockout/tagout program that outlines the procedures required for electrical maintenance safety. Lockout and tagout is the safety process a maintenance person uses to secure the electrical control panel on industrial equipment such as production presses and assembly machines. The program is designed to prevent the unexpected startup of electrical machinery or equipment during maintenance or repairs. Standard 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations 1910.147 describes the common procedures or checklist used for lockout/tagout.
Before any lockout/tagout procedure begins, the electrician performing the maintenance notifies all affected employees that the machinery will be turned off and secured. Those employees include the machine operator, department foreman, maintenance supervisor and any other employee that will be affected by the shutdown. Notification is also performed before the machinery is placed back into service.
The employee authorized to lockout and tag the machinery inspects all locking devices for damage. If any damage is found, the employee must discard the device and replace it.
Once all the preliminaries are performed, the authorized employee locks and/or tags the device out. After securing the energy source, the employee attempts to start the machine. Only after it's determined that the machine is de-energized can maintenance begin on the equipment.
The lockout/tagout identification must have certain information provided to ensure everyone knows who locked the machinery, when the machinery was locked, time the machinery was locked, reason the machinery was locked and the supervisor of the authorized employee locking out the machinery. The tag is placed on the electrical panel and a lock secures the panel. Only the person who placed the lock and tag on the electrical panel or his immediate supervisor has the authority to remove the lock and tag.
After all repairs are made to the machinery, the authorized employee can place the equipment back into production. Part of the lockout/tagout checklist includes the proper procedures to accomplish this task. The first step in the startup procedure is to ensure no tools are left in or around the machinery. Another review is performed after notification of restart, just to double-check that no tools or equipment were left behind.
After all tools have been removed, the authorized employee checks all safety guards and devices to make sure they have been put back in place. Each safety device on the machine must be inspected and verified that it's in the proper place.
After all the previous steps have been followed, the authorized employee removes the locking devices and/or tagging. The power is turned back on, and the equipment is placed back into production. Some maintenance departments require the personnel to remain with the machine to ensure that it is operating properly.
Mitchell Brock has been writing since 1980. His work includes media relations and copywriting technical manuals for Johnson & Johnson, HSBC, FOX and Phillip Morris. Brock graduated from the University of Southern California in 1980, earning a Bachelor of Arts in English.