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How Much Do You Know About Lockout/Tagout? Take the Quiz and Find Out!

Procedure can save your life, but lockout/tagout violations are common.

     Picture yourself working inside a huge machine, tending to its maintenance. Suddenly the machine springs to life, powerful metal gears grinding around you, placing you in mortal danger. That is exactly the sort of terrifying scenario that lockout/tagout is meant to prevent. Lockout/tagout is a procedure to disable equipment to protect workers from either an unexpected release of energy or an accidental start-up while performing job activities.

When the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revealed the 10 most-violated OSHA standards, based on citations issued from Oct. 1, 2004, through Aug. 30, 2005, the fifth most-cited standard was Lockout/Tagout.

When the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revealed the 10 most-violated OSHA standards, based on citations issued from Oct. 1, 2004, through Aug. 30, 2005, the fifth most-cited standard was Lockout/Tagout.

     During lockout/tagout, a person authorized by the company places locks and/or tags on energy-isolating devices before working on equipment, and only that person can remove those locks and tags. Isolation devices are mechanical appliances, such as circuit breakers, used to stop energy from being released to the equipment. Lockout is usually accomplished with a keyed lock holding an isolating device in an “off” position. Tagout, which is often used when lockout cannot take place, uses tags to warn people that the equipment and isolating device may not be operated.

Lockout/tagout in the workplace

     Lockout/tagout is required when servicing or performing maintenance on equipment. Effective lockout/tagout should occur in three phases: applying lockout/tagout, servicing and repairing equipment, and returning equipment to proper operation.

     Applying Lockout/Tagout: An authorized worker should notify others in the area that lockout/tagout procedures will be taking place. After listening to instructions given by the authorized worker, all unauthorized personnel should move to a safe location, away from the equipment. 

     Note: Locks and tags must be marked with the names or pictures of the authorized workers. Unauthorized personnel cannot attach or remove locks or tags on behalf of authorized workers.

     Servicing and Repairing Equipment: Unauthorized personnel should stay away from the equipment while the authorized person is working on it. At this time, the equipment is at its most vulnerable to the unexpected release of hazardous energy.

     Returning Equipment to Proper Operation: During this phase, the authorized worker should tell others in the area when locks and tags will be removed. Workers should stay clear of the area while locks and tags are removed and the equipment is prepared for normal operation. All personnel should be informed when lockout/tagout is complete.

Test Your Knowledge of Lockout/Tagout

     How familiar are you with lockout/tagout? Take this test and find out.
     (Answers at end of article.)

1.) What is the purpose of lockout/tagout?
     a.) To make sure the work is being completed on time.
     b.) To protect people from serious harm due to accidental release of energy.
     c.) To make sure the workplace is secure after-hours.
     d.) To make sure employees are in top physical condition.

2.) What is an energy isolating device?
     a.) A lock
     b.) A mechanical device like a valve or a circuit breaker
     c.) A tag
     d.) A and C

3.) Who can service equipment?
     a.) Any employee
     b.) Management
     c.) Authorized workers
     d.) Custodians

4.) What must happen before removing a machine guard?
     a.) You must put on eye protection.
     b.) Ask a trusted coworker to watch the controls so no one else will touch them.
     c.) Tell everyone you see in the work area they need to be especially careful.
     d.) Lockout/tagout the equipment.

5.) What is a tag used for?
     a.) To hang around a worker’s neck.
     b.) To identify company products.
     c.) A warning to not operate equipment.
     d.) None of the above

6.) When are tags used?
     a.) When a lock cannot be used.
     b.) When products go on sale.
     c.) When a government official says they can be used.
     d.) All of the above.

7.) You can help an authorized person by fastening their lock to a disconnect switch.
     a.) True
     b.) False

8.) What kind of lock is used for lockout?
    a.) A lock from the worker’s personal locker.
    b.) A piece of strong wire.
    c.) Hand cuffs.
    d.) A lock specifically identified for lockout.

9.) What can be used to remove a lock from an isolating device?
     a.) A hacksaw.
     b.) A key.
     c.) Bolt cutters.
     d.) A cutting torch.

10.) What types of lockout/tagout records should be kept?
     a.) Written lockout/tagout procedure.
     b.) Inspection documents.
     c.) Training records.
     d.) All of the above.

     A score of 10 correct answers is the only acceptable score for total OSHA compliance. When it comes to safety, knowledge is power, and comprehensive training on lockout/tagout is the best way to assure that workers are familiar with that lifesaving procedure.
American Safety Training, Inc.

Test answers:
  1.) b.  2.) b.  3.) c.  4.) d.  5.) c.  6.) a.  7.) f.  8.) d.  9.) b.  10.) d

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