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Lockout procedures: Here's how to disengage a power source safely

by , 26 February 2014
You're legally required to create lockout procedures for every machine. That's not all. You must also have a procedure for disengaging power sources for all your machines. Continue reading to find out about this procedure.

Before we get to how you must disengage the power source, let's first define the words 'power source'.

The Health & Safety Advisor defines a power source as any source of power that provides the energy needed to drive a piece of machinery or equipment. It includes, but isn't limited to:

  • Electricity;
  • Steam;
  • Hydraulic power;
  • Water;
  • Air;
  • Mechanical radiation;
  • Thermal forms of energy; and
  • Any elevated objects or parts that could injure or endanger a worker if it unexpectedly moves.

The procedure for disengaging the power source safely is as follows:

You must tell your employees to do the following:

#1: Before you turn off the power source, make sure no one is operating the equipment.

A sudden loss of power could cause an accident. For example, if you switch off a machine while it's carrying a load, an employee working on it could be seriously injured if the load falls on him;

#2: If you're not sure about where the main disconnect switch or the method of pulling it, contact the electrician on duty;

#3: Don't pull an electrical disconnect while a machine is under load (while in use). This can cause an explosion and injure someone or damage property;

Read on for the last three steps...


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#4: When you disengage an electrical disconnect, make sure the machinery or equipment is first turned off at the controls. Open the main disconnect with your left hand and face away from the panel;

#5: When you lock out valves, taps, or items other than electrical disconnects, the appropriate multiple lock attachment must be placed through the lock-out loop on the control. If a lock-out loop isn't available, you must use an alternate means ( i.e. chain or specialised lockout cover)to secure the control device in an inoperable position; and

#6: All accumulator tanks (large, well-insulated, hot water tank) or reservoirs holding reserve energy to operate the equipment must be drained before maintenance work begins. The drain valve must be secured in the open position.

Now that you know how to disengage the power source safely, make sure you comply to protect employees who work on machinery.

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