This guide takes you through the process of creating and maintaining a successful Lock Out Program at your factory.

A Lock Out, Tag Out (LOTO) Program is a health and safety procedure that ensures dangerous machinery is shut off and unable to reconnect during repairs, maintenance, and cleaning. Most frequently carried out by Engineering and Hygiene teams, this process is an essential part of securing audit compliance and protecting the operatives at your site.

If your site is home to machines that feature blades, linkage, or chains, it is likely that you already have a strict Lock Out Program in place. Even so, there is always room for improvement, especially when the reputation of your brand and the lives of your workers are at risk.

It could also be the case that you are about to introduce a new piece of machinery to your site and would like to step up your program in anticipation of its arrival. Whatever the case, the following guide will help you to make the right decisions for your site.

#1 Find the right Lock Out equipment for your factory

The first step is to find the right Lock Out equipment for your site. Before making any big decisions, it is a good idea to take a tour of your factory to identify any areas where your current process could be enhanced. You should also make a note of any new machinery that requires corresponding lock out equipment.

Why not invite operatives from your engineering and hygiene teams to come along for the tour? Your Health and Safety representatives should also be in attendance.

In terms of the equipment you should be considering, the key pieces are listed below. To learn about them in further detail, you can click on the relevant images:

Lock Out Plug Covers

This cover surrounds your electrical plug and prevents it from reconnecting. It can withstand chemicals and extreme temperatures – ideal for areas that undergo regular washdowns. It also features a rotating design for easy installation in tight spaces.

Gate Valve Covers

Also able to withstand chemicals and extreme temperatures, this rotating device surrounds the operating handle of a valve and prevents it from re-opening. This isolates power within a piece of machinery as your Hygiene Team cleans it.

Universal Circuit Breakers

These miniature circuit breakers are compatible with all Masterlock padlocks and hasps. Instead of using tools, you can rely on the thumb dial screw to lock each breaker into position. Once this has been done, the dial will be inaccessible.

Adjustable Cable 

Tough yet flexible, this pull-tight cable system features an integrated hasp. This means it is ideally suited to the lock out of multiple circuit breaker panels and side-by-side gate valves. Simply feed the cable through the points in need of locking out, back through the lock out body, then pull tight.

Standard Lock Out Kit

Featuring six padlocks, six miniature circuit breakers, two universal circuit breakers, three lock out gate valves, a universal ball valve lock out, three cable lock outs, and two safety hasps, this collection of lock out essentials comes in a handy toolbox carrier. Secure all your equipment in one go.

Portable Group Lock Out Box

This portable box is the ideal place to store keys for the padlocks used to lock out equipment across your site. Once they keys are inside the box, authorised operatives can lock a personal safety padlock onto the box and only remove it when the necessary work has been carried out.

Keyed Padlock

Designed with lock out applications in mind, this durable, lightweight, non-conductive padlock is suitable for indoor and outdoor use. There is one unique key for each padlock, and the padlock itself is key-retaining, so it will never be left unlocked.

Lock Out Hasp

Hasps are useful when multiple operatives are working in the same area. The first operative locks off a machine, attaching a hasp, then everyone else working in the area adds their padlocks. The machine will only run again once all the padlocks have been removed.

IndeliMarking

You can IndeliMark your keys and padlocks. This is the process of using specialist lasers to change the molecular structure of a surface to create contrasting impressions – permanently branding your equipment without undermining hygiene or food safety.

#2 Introduce Visual Management

Although having the right lock out equipment at your site is a great place to start, this needs to be more than a tick box exercise. It is vital that everyone at work or visiting is aware of the procedures in place. From the senior leader who manages the lock out process to the operative who simply has to understand why a machine is not available, everyone needs to be aware of their role.

Introducing Visual Management to your site should help you to achieve this. 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual, so it is likely that brightly coloured displays with lots of images will grab the attention of your operatives, assisting them in the identification of lock out points and reminding them not to engage with a piece of locked out machinery.

Visual Management will also help you to communicate with team members that don’t have English as their first language, operatives who struggle with their memory and eyesight, along with agency staff who are new to your site and unfamiliar with their surroundings.

Below are four examples of Visual Management for you to explore:

Tags

Designed to withstand the daily demands of a factory, these tags can be added to lock out points to draw attention to the fact that the machinery should not be in use and should only be released by a designated operative. The name and department of this operative can be added to the tag, further increasing accountability and eliminating confusion. There is also space to add the date and time at which the machine is expected to be back up and running. An operative who needs to use the machine can either plan their work accordingly or chase the individual in charge of removing the tag and the lock out equipment.

Signs

Your site will also need signs that reflect and reinforce your Lock Out Program. Examples include Machinery Mandatory signs that convey expectations surrounding the locking out of a machine and the placement of each lock out point e.g. lock out here before working on this equipment. Machinery Prohibition signs are also important. They can be used to tell your operatives what not to do e.g. do not tamper with the lock out devices. And finally, there are Machinery Warning signs that will alert your operatives to the specific risks involved. When it comes to lock out equipment, this tends to be an electrical threat. These signs can also share the best course of action e.g. lock out devices must be removed by authorised personnel only.

Projecting Signs

Another way to grab the attention of your operatives is with the use of an Easyfix Projecting sign. If you are concerned that your site is currently contravening government guidelines or best practice expectations, this is a quick and easy solution. Such a prominent sign will put your lock out process on the map, making sure operatives, auditors, and visiting customers know that it’s an important part of your operation, and one that is taken seriously. Easy installation also allows for easy removal and relocation, something that will be particularly useful if a piece of machinery is moved or a lock out point is changed.

Free-Standing Floor Signs

It might be that you already have signs and tags in use at your site, but you are concerned that your operatives are still overlooking the guidance provided. A Free-standing Floor sign should help to bring this matter back to the forefront of their minds. Impossible to miss, it can be moved around your site to sit next to each piece of locked out equipment. It could also be used to convey the locking out of all the machines within a specific area, something that is likely to happen if an intensive washdown is taking place. Although your Hygiene Team will still want to check that each machine has its individual tags, signs, and lock out devices, a floor sign will provide an initial indication of whether or not an area is ready to be cleaned.

Shadow Boards

You should consider a Shadow Board for the storage of your lock out essentials. Instead of equipment going missing or being used incorrectly, you can ensure it is kept in the correct place at all times. If you introduce colour coding and have separate Shadow Boards for different production lines, you will also be able to tell, at a glance, which machines are locked out and which are in use. Your operatives will be able to make the same assessment, helping them to structure their shifts and raise concerns if the lock out equipment for a piece of machinery that shouldn’t be active is still hanging on the board.

#3 Prioritise the training of your operatives

Last, but by no means least, you need to consider the training of your operatives. As with everything that takes place at your site, it will be impossible to secure success without first securing the cooperation of your workforce.

When establishing your training strategy, it’s important to remember that everyone at your site will be impacted by your Lock Out Program. After all, a failure to uphold it could result in serious injury or even a fatality. A careless approach could also lead to the closure of your factory, so the employment of every team member is dependant on your site’s ability to meet the relevant standards and specifications.

When establishing your training strategy, you will need to work your way through the four questions listed below:

Which operatives are performing the lock out procedures at my site?

The Engineering Team

Your engineering team will need to lock out the machines at your site when they carry out essential maintenance and repairs.

  • An engineer should be involved in the purchasing process behind securing the right lock out equipment for your site.
  • Encourage your engineering team to collaborate with different department leads – making sure everyone is aware of their strategy and appreciative of their work.
  • Nominate your most experienced and affable engineer to lead the training in this department, under your supervision.

The Hygiene Team

Along with your engineering team, it is possible that your hygiene operatives will take responsibility for locking out dangerous or complex equipment before a clean.

  • Adopt a similar approach to the one in place for your engineering team – give hygiene a voice at the table, encourage collaboration, and appoint a team leader.
  • Ensure instructions for the lock out of each machine feature on your site’s Cleaning Instruction Cards. These will need to be updated every time a new piece of equipment arrives, and a relevant training session should accompany this.

Which operatives are most likely to be impacted by these procedures?

The Hygiene and Engineering Teams

If a machine is left on or reconnects during repairs, maintenance, or cleaning, this could result in a serious injury or fatality. The chance of this happening only increases if your hygiene operatives or engineers are working on a machine with blades, linkage, or chains. A successful lock out program will keep your hygiene and engineering teams safe. Equally, an inadequate policy will put them in serious danger. A confused system will also slow down your operatives, with the wrong machines being locked out or machines being locked out for longer than necessary.

The Production Team

Although the consequences will be far less severe for your production team, a poorly-managed lock out program could also impact this department. Instead of being able to get on with their duties, they could be significantly slowed down by a machine that has been locked out and forgotten about. Accountability is key, so make sure your production team know who is in charge of lock outs. They also need to understand the importance of waiting for an authorised operative to restore a locked out machine, as taking matters into their own hands could spell disaster.

Who is in charge of the training that relates to our Lock Out Program?

Ideally, the Lock Out Program at your site should be managed by an individual operating on a senior level. This person will need to hold regular training sessions for the leads in each department – making sure all the information being passed down is accurate and up-to-date. If you plan to take on this role and you are struggling to find suitable training resources, why not reach out to the suppliers of your lock out equipment to see if they have any helpful literature or video tutorials? You could also turn to a sister site for guidance. Another tip is to keep a clear record of any training carried out, as this will be of use during internal inspections and upcoming audits.

Who is responsible for writing the equipment-specific lock out procedures?

As with every process taking place at your site, it’s important that your Lock Out Program is carefully recorded. To meet the relevant standards and specifications, you will need to have your equipment-specific lock out procedures in writing. Before asking someone at your site to take on this task, it is vital that they have the relevant training and understand exactly what your auditing body expects from these records. Again, turning to your supplier and a sister site could be the best place to start. You could also speak to the manufacturer of the machine itself, as its possible that the instruction manual will have a section on health and safety.


So that brings us to the end of our guide to setting up a successful Lock Out Program at your site. As you make your way through the process of finding the right equipment, introducing Visual Management, and training up your operatives, the Klipspringer team would be happy to help with any enquiries. You can contact us on 01473 461800 or sales@klipspringer.com. Alternatively, you can use the form below to arrange a free consultation.  

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