What are the critical elements involved in keeping workers safe that apply to all machinery?
The means to isolate energy sources, and to lock them out. They need to be easily accessible and identifiable. If you have an isolator that’s on the roof and someone has to go and get a ladder to access it, they’re not going to use it. So that’s the first thing.
The second thing is the Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO) procedure needs to be simple. If it’s convoluted, and takes a long time to do, it’s far more likely that people won’t follow it. So regarding those two elements, you need the right energy source and isolation means available in the right locations, that are engineered to allow for quick and easy isolation.
The third critical element is that it should be made clear to cleaners and anyone performing machine maintenance how they can perform the task with really simple, clear instructions. That should include the use of photos, preferably marked up photos, and very simple instructions. If they are long winded, multi page documents that people have to go and access, it’s unlikely that the guidance will be followed.
The other thing will be to consider, is if you have to move or run the plant/equipment during cleaning and maintenance. This requires special consideration, and that should be captured within the procedures that you have.
The last two key points are that you need everyone to be suitably provisioned with padlocks, or lockout means, and have someone routinely monitoring the fact that people are completing the lockout process as they should.
So every cleaning and maintenance plan and procedure should consider:
- Clarity, and provision of padlocks and other materials
- and then finally routine checks.
Further, there needs to be a testing process, people need to verify they’ve locked out the plant and it can’t be restarted. And that testing process should be done by the cleaner or maintainer who has isolated the plant, to make sure that they have isolated the machine appropriately.
Once the cleaning or maintenance task is complete there needs to be a clear reinstatement process.