If you could only choose one thing that has improved dramatically in the world of manufacturing over the past decades, what would it be? Pose that question to anyone who actually works on or manages the shop floor in our modern industrial age, and they won’t hesitate for a second to give you the answer:
From better and more thorough testing to safe industrial flooring, efficient hazardous waste disposal, regular maintenance – the list goes on. But at the tip of the spear of superior manufacturing safety these days is the management of hazardous equipment, processes and machinery, and clearer, more stringent processes and signage. And so, in this piece, we’re going to introduce you to the wonderful world of lockout stations.
More specifically, lockout/tagout stations should now be commonplace on every safe shop floor – and in many cases it is mandatory from both a regulatory and corporate standpoint. But first things first: What on earth are lockout stations, anyway?
We’ll start with lockout devices, which come in the form of locks, tags and keys. Their role? For all of the dangerous spaces, electrical work, hazardous machinery and equipment around your organization’s workplace, it’s the lockout devices that keep workers safe as they operate, service and maintain those critical workspaces and machines.You can purchase one from any reputable supplier e.g RS Components.
For instance, the typical lockout strategy will involve the full powering-down of hazardous equipment or areas so that – for instance – they can be repaired, serviced or maintained.
LOCKOUT means making the equipment/area inoperable or inaccessible by physically locking it down with suitable devices and locks.
TAGOUT means using tags or labels to clearly and formally inform workers and others that, for whatever reason, the equipment/area is currently inoperable.
As for the lockout stations themselves, this is simply the central and physical storage hub of the entire lockout/tagout solution. Coming in various shapes, forms and sizes – from a simple station that holds a few keys, locks and labels to locked and labelled boxes and sizeable multipurpose lockout hubs on wheels – and more. The idea is that it’s easy to spot, strategically located, and fully secure, allowing every type of organization to confidently pursue a lockout/tagout solution that is effective, cost-efficient, and above all safe.
With the correct lockout locks, keys or tags, and a corresponding lockout station, your organization is then able to devise or follow the suitable procedures, documentation and inspection routine to combine with worker training and continuous improvement that will make your workplace both safer and more productive.
Specifically, lockout stations:
1. Help to standardise/centralise your lockout/tagout procedures.
2. Allow you to keep track of your multiple lockout/tagout devices.
3. Boost productivity and cut costs by streamlining maintenance schedules and minimising downtime.
4. Ensure compliance with effective, easy-to-follow and foolproof procedures.
5. Save lives by reducing incidents, injuries and workplace deaths.
To perfectly match your organization’s safety and compliance needs with the ideal lockout/tagout solution, you’ll need a huge range and expert guidance – so never be shy to ask industry specialists for help.
Virginia Hoff is a former police officer with over 20 years experience, and currently acts as the Senior Security Writer for Be-Safe.org.
Her expertise include Home Security and Family Protection.