A review of lockout/tagout regulations continues with the beginning steps of a procedural example for group lockout/tagout.

This series has focused on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's "Control of Hazardous Energy" standard, 29 CFR 1910.147 -- also known as the lockout/tagout standard. It specifically addresses practices and procedures necessary to disable machinery or equipment and to prevent the release of potentially hazardous energy while maintenance and servicing activities are being performed. The standard applies to any source of mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal or other energy.

In last month's installment, I looked at the basic organizational structure of group lockout/tagout, a procedure that typically is used for compl ex equipment such as that utilized in the chemicals or petrochemical industry. This time, I offer the beginning steps of a procedural example for group lockout/tagout.

Normal group lockout/tagout procedures require the affixing of individual lockout/tagout devices by each authorized employee to a group lockout device. However, in the servicing and maintenance of sophisticated, complex equipment such as process equipment in petroleum refining, petroleum production and chemical production, there may be a need to adapt and modify normal group lockout/tagout procedures to ensure the safety of the employees performing the servicing and maintenance.

To determine if this is the case for your equipment, reference OSHA Instruction STD 1-7.3 SEP, paragraph B.3.a. and evaluate the following:

  • Physical size and extent of the equipment being serviced or maintained.

  • Relative inaccessibility of the energy-isolating devices.

  • Number of employees performing the servicing or maintenance.

  • Number of energy-isolating devices to be locked or tagged out.

  • Interdependence and interrelationship of the components in the system or between different systems.

Specific issues related to the control of hazardous energy in complex process equipment are described below in OSHA's example of a typical situation, which the organization says could be found at any facility.

Complex process equipment that is scheduled for servicing or maintenance operations generally is identified b y plant supervision. Plant supervision would issue specific work orders regarding the operations to be performed. In most instances where complex process equipment is to be serviced or maintained, the process equipment operators can be expected to conduct the shutdown procedure. This is due to their in-depth knowledge of the equipment and the need to conduct the shutdown procedure in a safe, economic and specific sequence.

Operations personnel normally will prepare the equipment for lockout/tagout as they proceed and will identify the locations for blanks, blocks, etc., by placing operations locks and/or tags on the equipment. The operations personnel can be expected to isolate the hazardous energy and drain and flush fluids from the process equipment following a standard procedure or a specific work permit procedure.

Upon completion of shutdown, the operations personnel would review the intended job with the servicing and maintenance crews and would ensure their full comprehension of the energy c ontrols necessary to conduct servicing or maintenance safely. During or immediately after the review of the job, the servicing and maintenance crews would install locks, tags and/or special isolating devices at previously identified equipment locations fo llowing the specified work permit procedure.

Line openings necessary for the isolation of the equipment normally would be permitted only by special work permits issued by operations personnel. (Such line openings should be monitored by operations personnel as an added safety measure.)

Next month, I'll finish this series with the rest of the procedural steps to take for group lockout/tagout..