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Safely Re-energizing: A 5-Step Guide to Releasing Lockout Tagout

dateJune 16, 2020

While Lockout Tagout (LOTO) practices are widely recognized for safeguarding workers during maintenance and servicing of machinery, the reversal of this process - releasing Lockout Tagout - is equally crucial. If not done correctly, this can result in hazards just as serious as not implementing LOTO in the first place. Complying with OSHA's standards, let's delve deep into a structured approach for safely restoring machinery to operational mode post-maintenance.

Releasing Lockout Tagout: A Structured Approach

  1. Remove Tools and Replace Guards:
    Before thinking about restoring energy to the machinery, inspect the workspace meticulously. This ensures that no stray tools, components, or materials remain that could obstruct the machine's operation and ensure that the equipment is operationally intact. This step guarantees the machinery's readiness to resume its operation safely.
  2. Check for Employees:
    The onus of verifying the work area often falls on the supervisor. This involves two critical tasks: firstly, confirming with the maintenance staff that their tasks are complete, and secondly, making a visual inspection to ensure no one remains close to the equipment. This step ensures the safety of all personnel during the re-energizing process.
  3. Notify the Affected Employees:
    Communication is key. All employees who might be affected by the restarting of the equipment should be informed in advance. The supervisor should relay this information, ensuring that everyone is aware of the imminent re-energizing and is prepared for the machine's return to its operational state.
  4. Remove Lockout Tagout Devices:
    As a standard procedure, the person who implemented the LOTO device is responsible for its removal. This ensures that the individual, who is most familiar with the machinery's state and the specific maintenance conducted, confirms that it's safe to reactivate the machinery. This step minimizes chances of accidental start-ups or unforeseen issues.
  5. Restore Energy:
    With the LOTO devices removed and all safety checks conducted, it's now time to re-energize the machinery and bring it back to its functional state. This transition should be smooth, with all systems returning to their normal operational parameters.

Although the five steps outlined above provide a standard procedure, safety is always situational. The rare exception mentioned, as per OSHA’s (e)(3) Lockout Tagout standard, about another employee removing the Lockout Tagout device under exceptional circumstances should be treated with utmost care and caution. Lockout Tagout is not merely about following procedures but is a culture of safety that every organization should instill. So, as you transition from maintenance to machinery operation, always remember: Safety First!

E-Square Compliance and Education Division
About the Author

E-Square Compliance and Education Division

A team of safety professionals and educators united to enhance workplace safety with essential Lockout Tagout knowledge. We offer expertise to foster safety compliance and effective LOTO protocols across industries.

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