Upgrading your energy processes on site?

Has it been captured in your LOTO procedures?

Controlling Your Hazards – Keeping it up to date is vital!

When we take a closer look at equipment maintenance and repairs, we must ensure that the personnel involved in these activities are regularly trained and audited to certify that Lockout Tagout procedures and safety programs are being followed. These systems are designed to protect employees from hazards in the workplace but are only effective if they are maintained.

It’s vital that, each time your electrical system and single line diagrams are updated or revised, changes are implemented in the work instructions and specification’s used by maintenance personnel and Engineering departments performing activities on the front line.

What is seen as a minor change to the electrical infrastructure or process material delivery systems can and will render an existing Lockout & Tagout program useless, resulting in the potential of placing ‘unaware’ personnel in danger.  Not only will these undocumented changes seriously impact on the health and safety of your personnel, they will also seriously damage production equipment and/or create process related issues that will be difficult to trace.  These changes must always be communicated downstream to personnel involved in planned maintenance activities.

These planned maintenance activities are exactly that, planned and prepared so that the personnel involved have been prepared for these activities and are competent to perform them to the highest standards, whilst maintaining the highest levels of safety.  If the procedures they are using are in effect out of date, they could be locking out power at the wrong locations or, in some cases, isolating inert gas lines that may contain hazardous process material.

In a case like this, a gas line can be cross-contaminated with a pyrophoric material; and when the line is removed, it can react violently with air and force a stop work. This can contaminate an entire gas delivery system which would need to be replaced at considerable cost. The reaction, when the material contacted air, would place the maintenance team in considerable danger and would be easily avoided if the schematics were updated after that upgrade had been completed.

Each time your electrical system model is changed, or device settings have been modified, this will directly influence the amount of incident energy present during an arc flash event. If the settings changed since your last arc flash hazard analysis was performed, it may impact the level of P.P.E. that your personnel require and employees would be oblivious to this because they are following an out-of-date procedure. That is why it’s vital that any changes performed trigger audits and revision of existing working procedures on that system.

The highly trained engineers at Premium Power can regularly verify your model to ensure optimum performance whilst maintaining discrimination and coordination. When changes are made or required, we will retrain your personnel to the latest industry standards and best-known methods for Lockout and Tagout procedures and Arc Flash awareness, focusing on those energies, their sources and associated hazards.

Lockout & Tagout is a key part of any organisation’s energy control program and it’s necessary for the safety and welfare of all employees. It is also vital that the energy control program is maintained by competent personnel to ensure that schematic and power distribution diagrams and even the installation of new or retrofitting of existing equipment are identified and then added to the existing energy control program ensuring its validity.

Having worked in the manufacturing and power industry for many years, I have seen the simple redirecting of a process gas or power supply result in serious harm, contamination of process material and hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage to critical production tools, just because a schematic diagram was not updated after corrective maintenance was performed and that, combined with the production pressures to get the job done, can result in serious injuries.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) state that an “effective energy control program prevents 120 fatalities per annum and 50,000 injuries each year”. Each injury resulting from Lockout Tagout violation takes, on average, 24 days to recover, not including compensation and investigation.

Although there are no specific regulatory requirements that focus solely on Lockout & Tagout, there are requirements laid out regulations and it is your duty as an employer to stay aware of the latest procedures and standards, to ensure that your personnel remain protected by the latest prevention methods.

The training provided by Premium Power Ltd for Lockout and Tagout is delivered by Industries Engineering and Safety Professionals with over 25+ years’ of industry experience, and are acclaimed International speakers at safety conferences and training seminars all over Europe and the U.S.A.