Safety Culture: Practicing Lockout/Tagout Procedures When Servicing Equipment - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Safety Culture: Practicing Lockout/Tagout Procedures When Servicing Equipment

As cleaning, maintaining and repairing equipment is a normal part of a lawn or landscape company’s operations, it’s important to practice lockout/tagout procedures during these tasks.

Lockout means placing a lock on a machine to prevent it from unexpectedly starting or energizing during service or repair. A lock might also prevent stored energy from being released. Tagout means placing a warning tag on a switch or other shutoff device to warn others not to start the machine. Always use lockout and tagout together.

OSHA identifies landscape industry workers as one of the groups facing the greatest risk from the hazard of equipment unexpectedly starting or releasing stored energy, which can result in serious injuries or death.

Hazardous energy is any type of energy in sufficient quantity to cause energy to a worker. Common sources of hazardous energy include electricity, mechanical motion and pressurized air. It can result in injuries such as electrocution, burns, crushing, cutting, lacerating, or fracturing body parts.

Compliance with lockout/tagout procedures prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Workers exposed to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation, according to OSHA.

Safeguarding Staff

Develop and implement a written hazardous energy control program, including lockout/tagout procedures, employee training, and inspections before any maintenance or service work is done.

Lockout/tagout procedures should be implemented when workers are servicing and maintaining equipment and unexpected startup of the machine or release of stored energy could occur.

It should also be implemented during normal production if a worker must remove or bypass a guard or safety device or if the worker has to place any part of their body into the danger zone or near the machine’s point of operation.

All employees who are authorized to service and maintain equipment need to be trained to recognize hazardous energy sources and the methods of isolating and/or controlling energy.

Lockout/Tagout Steps

1. Notify everyone on the jobsite that the machine will be locked for service.

2. Use blocking techniques to immobilize the machine. Chock the wheels, if necessary.

3. Remove the ignition key.

4. Bleed hydraulic or pneumatic systems to release pressure or vacuums and release or block any other stored energy. Hydraulically raised components of a machine could fall during repair/maintenance. Lower components or support them in the raised position.

5. Exercise the controls and steering to let off any pressure that’s stored in the control lines.

6. Apply the appropriate lockout device.

7. Post tags to highly visible positions in the cab or near the controls to warn others not to operate the equipment. Use as many tags as necessary.

8. Turn off the main disconnect switch, remove the key, and lock the access door. Apply a tag to this compartment as well.

9. Lock the cab, if appropriate.

10. Disconnect the machine from energy sources. This might be as simple as removing the negative battery cable from the battery post.

11. Try to restart the equipment to ensure that it is secured.

12. Move implement controls left and right and up and down again to release any hydraulic pressure still in the system.

13. After the repair, remove locks and tags, reconnect energy sources, restart the engine, and check to make sure everything is operating correctly.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.