Lockout Glossary: How to Keep Your Workplace Drug-Free after Marijuana Is Legalized

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What’s At Stake

If machinery starts up while it’s being maintained or repaired, the workers performing the servicing operation risk:

  • Being crushed or struck by the machinery or its moving parts;
  • Amputation from blades and cutting instruments;
  • Electrocution or burns from power surges.

Even after machinery is shut down, there’s a risk that it will somehow energized while workers are servicing it.  Common examples:

  • Somebody who doesn’t know the machine is being serviced may turn on the power;
  • Workers might accidentally turn the power on themselves;
  • It turns out that the power really wasn’t shut off after all; or
  • Residual energy in the system activates the machine.

OHS laws require employers to implement lockout and de-energization procedures to ensure such incidents don’t happen.

14 Things to Include in Your Policy

While technical methods vary depending on the machinery and servicing operation involved, you should have a general policy in place to ensure effective lockout and de-energization and compliance with OHS requirements. Here are 14 things to include in your Model Lockout & De-energization Policy. (Click here for a Model Policy based on the laws of your own jurisdiction. Alberta, BC)

  1. Statement of Purpose

Indicate that the purpose of the policy is to prevent amputation, crushing, electrocution and other injuries to personnel performing maintenance work on machinery and equipment in accordance with the OHS laws of your jurisdiction [Model Policy, Sec. 1].

  1. Key Definitions

Make sure there are clear definitions of the crucial technical and legal terms that appear in your general lockout and de-energization policy. Although technical details vary depending on machinery, servicing operation and local OHS requirements, key terms would typically include many if not most of the following:

  •  “Energy source” means any electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other source of energy of potential harm to workers;
  • “Isolated” means separated, disconnected, de‐energized or depressurized;
  • “Isolating device” means a device that physically prevents the transmission or release of an energy source to machinery or equipment;
  •  “Lockout” means the use of one or more locks to render machinery or equipment inoperable or to isolate an energy source in accordance with a written procedure;
  • “Maintenance” means work performed to keep machinery or equipment in a safe operating condition, including installing, repairing, cleaning, lubricating, and clearing of obstructions to the normal flow of material;
  • “Personal lock” means a lock provided by the employer for use by a worker to ensure personal lockout protection such that each lock when applied is operable only by a key in the worker’s possession, and by a key under the control of the supervisor or manager in charge;
  • “Power system” means all plant and equipment essential to the generation, transmission, or distribution of electricity, including any plant or equipment that is out of service, being constructed, or being installed;
  • “Practicable” means that which is reasonably capable of being done, a standard applied in determining what safety measures to implement to control a hazard;
  • “Qualified” means being knowledgeable of the work, the hazards involved, and the means to control them by reason of education, training, and/or experience.
  1. Scope of Policy

4.3. What This Policy Does Not Cover

  1. Key Definitions

Key definitions:

  •  “Control system isolating device” means a device that physically prevents activation of a system used for controlling the operation of machinery or equipment;
  • “Energy isolating device” means a device that physically prevents the transmission or release of an energy source to machinery or equipment;
  • “Energy source” means any electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other source of energy of potential harm to workers;
  • “Key securing system” means a system which physically prevents access to keys when locks or positive sealing devices are used in a group lockout procedure;
  • “Lockout” means the use of one or more locks to render machinery or equipment inoperable or to isolate an energy source in accordance with a written procedure;
  • “Maintenance” means work performed to keep machinery or equipment in a safe operating condition, including installing, repairing, cleaning, lubricating, and clearing of obstructions to the normal flow of material;
  • “Mobile equipment” means a wheeled or tracked vehicle powered by an engine or motor, together with attached or towed equipment, but not a vehicle operated on fixed rails or tracks;
  • “Normal production” means work that is routine, repetitive, and integral to the normal use of machinery or equipment for production;
  • “Personal lock” means a lock provided by ABC Company for use by a worker to ensure personal lockout protection such that each lock when applied is operable only by a key in the worker’s possession, and by a key under the control of the supervisor or manager in charge;
  • “Power system” means all plant and equipment essential to the generation, transmission, or distribution of electricity, including any plant or equipment that is out of service, being constructed, or being installed;
  • “Practicable” means that which is reasonably capable of being done, a standard applied in determining what safety measures to implement to control a hazard;
  • “Qualified” means being knowledgeable of the work, the hazards involved, and the means to control them by reason of education, training, and/or experience.

Define exactly what you mean by being fit for duty. Other key terms to define include “substance abuse,” “safety-sensitive job” and “drugs” [Model Policy, Sec. 4].

  1. When Lockout Required
  1. Qualified/Competent Person
  1. Lockout Procedure

Workers might assume that they’ll be allowed to use or be high on pot once cannabis is legalized. Debunk this popular misconception by expressly saying that impairment at work is never justified regardless of whether the cannabis or other substance that causes it is legal [Model Policy, Sec. 6].

  1. Verification of Lockout

BC: The Lockout Procedure must:

  • Provide for (and workers must use) a means to verify the lockout;
  • Require workers to verify that all energy sources have been effectively locked out before work begins; and
  • Require affixing the ABC Company Lockout Notification Tag to the machinery or equipment or use another conspicuous method to notify personnel that a lockout is in effect.

Group Lockout