This month Brady UK’s product expert Liz Gallagher ­advises on lockout/tagout procedures and practices and answers the following question: We have a quite a few seasonal workers in our factory, not all of whom have English as their first language which is a concern when isolating, maintaining and locking out machines. Do you have any tips?

If any of your co-workers are not familiar with reading English, the visual nature of any lockout device becomes imperative. An unmistakable tag with a warning sign is easy to distinguish in any language and will flag up that a machine has been locked-out well before any padlock can be spotted or problem occurs.

How to draw up an efficient LO/TO programme

The first step is to develop a written programme for your premises. This needs to cover identifying and writing procedures for the control of hazardous energy and preparation for shutdown, equipment isolation, lockout/tagout application, release of stored energy and verification of energy isolation for each piece of equipment. Next you must have employee training to ensure all those affected are familiar with the procedures. Finally, and fairly obviously, you must implement the lockout procedures for different energy sources from electrical, pneumatic, steam, gas and liquids.

In addition, there are seven steps to good Lockout/Tagout Implementation:

Step 1: Preparation – Prepare for a shut down of the energy source. Identify the type of energy used, i.e. electrical or mechanical and its potential hazards, locate the isolator and prepare to ‘lock off’ the energy source.

Step 2: Notification – Inform operators and supervisors who may be affected by isolating the machinery and inform them of the work being undertaken.

Step 3: Shutdown. Turn off the equipment or machine.

Step 4: Lock off – Lock off all energy sources using the appropriate Brady lockout devices. Apply the lock so no-one can turn the switch or valve while the work is being undertaken. Warn against accidental use by attaching lockout warning tags.

Step 5: Test – Test all machine controls and electrical circuits to ensure energy is completely isolated.

Step 6: Repair or rework – Perform maintenance and/or servicing.

Step 7: Return to service – When all work/maintenance has been carried out and lockout/tagout devices removed, be sure to test and visually check that all tools and mechanical and electrical lockout devices have been removed. Before bringing machinery back on-line, be sure to alert all workers.

What to look for in a padlock

This is a really important issue that can’t be taken seriously enough. Recently, the safety market has seen a lot of inferior products available which, from a very superficial cost perspective, might seem tempting. Cheap materials equate to poor performance and the product is unlikely to be tamper-proof. Other failings could be that the padlock could be opened by any key, its shackles could be easily removed and in many cases they can be removed or opened with little effort which totally negates the security protection. The Brady Safety Padlock is a safer alternative to a metal lock as its body does not conduct electricity and the design of its key chamber prevents an electrical charge travelling from the shackle to the key thus protecting workers from shock. It also has undergone extensive anti-corrosion testing to ensure optimum performance even after a 168-hour salt-water test. Different versions are available in standard colour-coding to correspond with different hazards and they are also available as either keyed-separately or keyed-alike sets.