While many facilities choose to implement a higher standard for their lockout / tagout procedures, the OSHA standard does have some minimal requirements to be in compliance for this type of work. Following the minimal lockout/tagout procedures will keep people much safer than having no safety standard in place at all, and it is a great place to start for facilities looking to improve their safety record.
The purpose of these minimum standards is to establish what is absolutely necessary for the locking out of all electricity while maintenance or servicing of a machine is being performed. It will ensure that the machinery is entirely stopped and powered down as well as isolating it from all energy sources which have the potential to engage the machine causing injury. This includes power supplies which could cause a surge or other unexpected engagement while someone was performing the service.
The lockout procedures must be done prior to any service individual enters into a potentially dangerous area, and they should be done by the service individual themselves so they are completely sure that it is safe for them to step into the machine.
All employees, whether they are involved with the maintenance or not, are required to comply with the restrictions and limitations on the system during the lockout period so that no unintended restoration of power is made. By observing these minimum lockout/tagout procedures it is possible to virtually eliminate the risk of accidents from occurring because of someone restoring power to a machine while someone is working on it.
Implementing the Standards
The minimum acceptable standards are to be implemented on all potentially dangerous machinery which has the ability to cause significant harm to someone who is working on it. When maintenance is scheduled the standards provide a step by step guide for what needs to be done from beginning to end so everyone can be sure they are following the right procedures and ensuring the safety of themselves and others.
The list of steps to be taken can be general and apply to just about every type of machinery. These general guidelines include things like shutting down the machine using the normal shut down processes, identifying all power sources and disconnecting them, tagging the sources and more. Many facilities will create a custom set of requirements for each of their machines to further increase the safety for those who are performing maintenance, but that is not strictly necessary for compliance with the minimal lockout / tagout procedures.
As with all types of safety processes the point of this procedure is to help ensure the safety of everyone who works on these types of machines. Without these procedures in place it is much more likely that people will get injured or even die while working on these machines. Most facilities have many large machines which can be quite dangerous when not managed correctly which is why these minimal safety standards are so important for everyone working in, on or around them.