What constitutes an adequate lockout/tagout training program? Answered by Estuardo Sanchez, lockout/tagout product manager, Labelmaster, Chicago, IL.
Authorized employees perform the maintenance work on equipment and use lockout procedures. They need to be familiar with all sources of hazardous energy, trained on isolating and controlling hazardous energy, and able to safely perform lockout/tagout procedures. Authorized personnel – those involved directly with repositioning the energy isolation devices and actual work – should be specifically trained within their respective disciplines (such as mechanical or electrical) to fully understand the operational aspects of the system and isolation devices. This training should include techniques to initially verify that the system or machine is in a zero-energy state and provide techniques for continuous verification to ensure energy does not accumulate during the work duration.
Affected and other employees are not required to be trained on specific procedures, but they do need to be aware of energy control policies, the importance of the proper use of lockout/tagout devices, and when lockout/tagout procedures are being used. Programs are available from companies knowledgeable in lockout/tagout procedures that demonstrate how to administer an employee training program that not only will be adequate, but will reflect industry best practices. These programs include critical information that employees need to help prevent injuries and comply with OSHA's Lockout/Tagout standard. Some training kits include interactive CDs or DVDs, as well as an instructor's guide and booklets to be passed out to workers. Quizzes and training completion certificates also are provided. Multilingual programs are available so that all employees will have a complete understanding of policies and procedures. Posters are also an option for making information highly visible in the work environment for all employees and visitors.
Training teaches all levels of plant personnel to recognize and understand the program. All employees must understand the importance of rendering a hazardous energy source into a zero-energy state when plant operational or maintenance activities are being performed. Standardized use of lockout/tagout devices, locks and tags provide visual communication to all employees that lockout/tagout is in progress.
Additional use of standardized boundary ropes and barriers add greater significance to visual communication. With it, all other employees (those not directly involved with the actual work protected by the energy isolation) will be alerted to remain at a distance from the actual worksite.
Annual audits should be conducted to ensure that the procedures in place are still valid and that all employees have been adequately trained on them.