Toolbox Talk Topic: Electrical Safety and the Lock Out Tag-out Standard
Definitions and Standard
Here are some highlights from the OSHA Standard 1910.147, the control of hazardous energy (lockout/Tagout) or LOTO
This standard applies to the control of energy during servicing and/or maintenance of machines and equipment.
“Where the employee may be exposed to the unexpected energization or startup of the equipment or release of hazardous energy.”
In somewhat simpler terms, Lockout/Tagout was designed to protect workers by preventing others from turning on equipment or from a release of energy while servicing or repairing equipment.
What is the “release of hazardous energy”? Although it is often thought of as pertaining to Electricity, it can be any energy source, including mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other energy.
Nearly all of modern life depends on Electricity. The type of Electricity that powers our modern world resulted from a little episode in history that would become known as the war of the currents.
The famous inventor Thomas Edison bet on his direct-current or DC system. In 1882 he began electrifying NY city. A young inventor by the name of Nikola Tesla was promoting his alternating current system.
Tesla was a Serbian immigrant and worked for Edison when he first arrived in America. Tesla tried to persuade Edison to adopt AC, but Edison wouldn’t consider it. After a dispute over a bonus that wasn’t paid, Tesla quit. Two years later, in 1887, Tesla patented his AC motor.
Enter George Westinghouse, an inventor and businessman who has been buying up patents and companies in the hope of creating an integrated AC system.
Westinghouse quickly realizes that Tesla’s Patents are the key to an integrated system, so he offers Tesla an upfront payment and a generous stream of royalties.
Edison isn’t giving up on his DC system in which he has invested millions. He claims that AC is dangerous, and as a bizarre way of demonstrating his point, he electrocutes animals in Central Park. Also, privately Edison supports using Alternating Current to electrocute prison inmates on death row.
DC power had a significant problem, however. It could only transmit power over a short distance before requiring a recharge station, proving to be its Achilles heel. AC ultimately was more efficient and could be transmitted much longer distances.
In 1893 Westinghouse won the bid to light the world’s fair planned for Chicago that year. In 1896 he also won the contract to build a power station using the incredible power of the Niagra falls. With Tesla’s help, both the Worlds Fair and the Niagara falls power station would use alternating current.
Between 2016 and 2019, there were 7310 injuries and 616 fatalities due to electrical accidents.
A breakdown by occupation shows deaths were:
- 43% of Construction workers
- 22% Installation, Maintenance, and repair
- 17% Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance
- 7% Transportation and Material Moving
- 6% Other
Electrocution is still one of the top 10 ways to die at work!
Always Lock Out / Tag Out (LOTO)
Always perform lockout/tag out before any repairs, maintenance, or service on equipment or any work that requires a person to place any part of their body in or near the point of operation.
All power sources should be disconnected and locked in the off position.
Each person involved locks out the power with their own personal lock and key, so they have control of the energy source. They should always place a tag on the lock to warn others and identify who is responsible. Never remove some else’s lock. Only a designated person (or group) can lock out power sources in some workplaces.
Performing Lock Out Tag Out (Basic Steps in the Process):
- Identify the equipment or machinery that needs to be shut down and ALL its energy sources.
- Notify affected workers about the shutdown –those who work on the machines or equipment or work in areas where LOTO will be done.
- Shut down the equipment or machine
- Shut off the power sources.
- Apply locks & tags to the power sources so the machine or equipment cannot be started.
- TEST – see if the equipment is properly locked out by trying to start it.
After the work is completed, remove all tools. Notify all employees that the locks will be removed and the equipment restarted.