Isolation and Lock Off
Posted on 24th March 2022 at 15:18
It is with great sadness that I have heard about a number of recent incidents in our industry that have resulted in fatalities.
We work in a hazardous industry but with the correct controls we can be safe.
It always sounds so simple: isolate the plant you are working on, isolate the equipment feeding on to it and isolate the equipment away.
However, we get it wrong. People don’t always know exactly where the isolator is, and/or they are not sure exactly what plant needs isolation. The isolator can be remote from where the work is being undertaken. All these elements can impact on a successfully isolated plant.
I once inspected a site and found that a pull wire was damaged on the first conveyor I came to. I wrote down ‘Pull wire on conveyor 1 is damaged and needs repair’. The site manager said that it wasn’t conveyor 1, it was conveyor 3. Conveyors 1 and 2 had been removed a few years back.
When we visited the switch room, I found that isolators for conveyors 1 and 2 were still in place but not connected. If I didn’t know better, I could have isolated No. 1, tested it to see if it started and then started work on a live conveyor, conveyor 3.
So, challenge your site. How easily identifiable are the items of plant? Maybe fit ‘number plates’ with the description of the plant: ‘Conveyor 2b’, ‘Nordberg 4ft’, ‘Scalping screen’ etc.
In your risk assessments, do not just state ‘Isolate and lock off’, but state where, e.g., ‘Isolate the screen on isolator 2 in the main switch house’.
Post on each isolator exactly which item of plant it isolates and ensure that people check the items of plant they are working on are listed and train people in your isolation and lock-off procedure.
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