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Lockout/Tagout Release

Once lockout/tagout procedures have been used and any maintenance has been completed, authorised employees can then go about the process of removing the lockout.

But wait! Don’t just remove it – there are several rules and regulations governing this process and it is extremely important that you follow them exactly.

Please note all reference taken below are from the Occupational Health and Safety Administrations guidance found inside the Federal Register, The Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout) – 1910.147.

OSHA states:

“Before lockout or tagout devices are removed and energy is restored to the machine or equipment, procedures shall be followed and actions taken by the authorized employees to ensure the following:” (Section E)

Machines and Equipment

The area and equipment used during maintenance must be rigorously checked to ensure that machinery can work correctly, and that any items used during the procedure have been removed and will not affect the structural integrity of the machine.

OSHA states:

“The work area shall be inspected to ensure that nonessential items have been removed and to ensure that machine or equipment components are operationally intact.” (Section E, 1)

Employees

This is simply one of the most essential parts of the process. Not performing this part of the procedure could result in death of fellow employees, and following OSHA’s guidelines will ensure that employees are accounted for and the lockout can be removed safely.

OSHA states:

“The work area shall be checked to ensure that all employees have been safely positioned or removed.” (Section E, 2, I)

And:

“After lockout or tagout devices have been removed and before a machine or equipment is started, affected employees shall be notified that the lockout or tagout device(s) have been removed.”

We must stress that the importance of alerting all employees, whether authorised, or affected, must be accounted for and informed during the lockout/tagout process.

Lockout or Tagout Device Removal

The actual removal of a lockout/tagout device is the responsibility of the person who applied it. Only in rare circumstances should the item be removed by anyone else, and the regulations for this process are outlined further below:

OSHA states:

“Each lockout or tagout device shall be removed from each energy isolating device by the employee who applied the device. Exception to paragraph (e,3). When the authorised employee who applied the lockout or tagout device is not available to remove it, that device may be removed under the direction of the employer, provided that specific procedures and training for such removal have been developed, documented and incorporated into the employer’s energy control program. The employer shall demonstrate that the specific procedure shall include at least the following elements:” (Section E, 3)

Verification

The person responsible for the lockout must not be currently present at the facility, and this must be verified through several steps:

OSHA states that the first element is:

“Verification by the employer that the authorised employee who applied the device is not at the facility:” (Section E, 3, I)

And:

“Making all reasonable efforts to contact the authorised employee to inform him/her that his/her lockout or tagout device has been removed; and” (Section E, 3, II)

“Ensuring that the authorised employee has this knowledge before he/she resume work at that facility.” (Section E, 3, III)

Only when all of these steps have been followed can the employer designate someone else to remove the lockout/tagout device from an isolation point. Always remember it is the responsibility of that person who applied the lockout to remove it unless, and only unless, they are not available to remove it and have been informed of the removal and have approved it.