What’s wrong with this operation?
[WARNING: This is a graphic video]
The good news: The electric panel explosion portrayed in this video is only a dramatization.
The bad news: Lockout shortcuts are all too real and common. And so are the fatal and gruesome injuries they cause.Although it’s quite disturbing, this video is very effective in demonstrating how even the slightest shortcut can lead to disaster.
The Moral: 100% compliance with lockout procedures isn’t just a rule but a matter of life and death.
LOCKOUT HAZARDS & HOW TO PREVENT THEM
WHAT’S THE HAZARD?
You wouldn’t perform repairs on an electrical panel if the juice was on. So you de-energize the panel before the work begins to avoid getting electrocuted or burned by arc flash.It makes perfect sense, right?But. . .
Bad Things Can Happen Once You Start the Work
- Somebody who doesn’t know you’re working on the panel may turn on the power;
- You might accidentally turn the power on yourself;
- It might turn out that the power really wasn’t shut off after all; or
- There may still be residual power in the system that causes the panel to energize.
Were Any of These Things to Happen. . .You’d probably get electrocuted or engulfed in an electrical explosion like the worker in the video.
WHAT THE LAW SAYS
OHS laws require employers to implement a procedure to ensure these things don’t happen when equipment and machinery are serviced. The procedure must list a method to:
- De-energize the equipment being serviced, i.e., turn it off; AND
- “Lock out” the energy source, i.e., use a lock or some other device to isolate it so nobody can turn it on while the work is being done.
These steps must be taken by a qualified worker with training to implement the lockout and de-energization procedures and work can’t begin until procedures are followed to verify that both of these things have happened.
WHAT WENT WRONG IN THE VIDEO
The worker authorized to implement the lockout procedure in the video was Sean, the guy in the gray shirt. Maybe because he was distracted by his fiancée’s call, he allowed the service worker to work on the panel without verifying that:
- The panel was de-energized—the power might have still been on because Gretchen had overridden his power down order; or
- The power source was properly locked out—somebody with a key to the room might have come in and turned on the power when the worker was fixing the panel.
And you saw what happened as a result.DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU
LOCKOUT TAGOUT DO’s & DON’Ts
- DO ensure all workers know about and follow the workplace lockout and de-energization procedure;
- DON’T ever let anybody take shortcuts in carrying out the procedure;
- DO make sure all affected workers and contractor workers know what the lockout and de-energization procedure is;
- DON’T all ow repair or servicing and machinery or equipment until and unless you verify that it’s been de-energized and the energy source has been locked out.