Quebec firm releases lockout study

The Quebec Occupational Health and Safety Research Institute (IRRST) has released a report that found some organizations in the province are not fully compliant with provincial regulations on lockout programs.

The IRRST research collected and analyzed lockout documentation and programs applied in various plants in the province. The study said lockout programs obtained from 31 factories and organisations in Quebec do not fully comply with the provincial regulation. The programs have several elements missing when compared to CSA Z460-2005.  
This report is the starting point of the research thematic on lockout which aims to identify various difficulties surrounding lockout and finding ways to promote the application of lockout in various industrial sectors, according to the IRRST.

Lockout is defined in CSA Z460-05 as the placement of a lock or tag on an energy-isolating device in accordance with an established procedure, indicating that the energy-isolating device is not to be operated until removal of the lock or tag, in accordance with an established procedure. As such, simply shutting off a machine, equipment or process may not completely control the hazardous energy since residual energy may still be present. Besides, even if the machine, equipment or process has been shut down and residual energy dissipated, an accident can still occur as a result of unexpected start up due to human error or a malfunction in a control circuit.

In 2005, 1,097 workers were killed in Canada and close to 340,000 were injured or suffered from illnesses linked to occupational hazards. This resulted in expenses amounting to $6.8 billion in compensation and salary replacement.

In Quebec for the same year, 223 workers were killed and 99,076 were injured, amounting to $1.6 billion in compensation and salary replacement for the CSST (Occupational Health and Safety Commission), the workers’ compensation board in Quebec. About 25 workers were killed in Quebec by dangerous machines and around 13,000 accidents could be linked to machines in the province in 2005, costing approximately $70 million to the CSST, according to the IRRST.

Lockout programs protect personnel from injury caused by inadvertent release of hazardous energy on machines, equipment and processes. The hazardous release of energy includes unintended motion of mechanical parts, energization, start-up or release of stored energy.

A lockout program should provide guidance to supervisors and employees on what is expected of them. A written program establishes the company’s general policies and procedures for implementing lockout as well as sets specific performance requirements for employees. It also provides the mechanism for regulatory compliance.

The IRRST study also revealed the following:
The concept of lockout has different meanings or definitions in the literature, especially in regulations. However, definitions for lockout which are found in standards have certain similarities.

The legal requirements on lockout vary in different Canadian provinces and in different countries. Standards on lockout tend to have similar requirements, except ISO 14118. However, some differences in the standards regarding the elements of lockout programs exist. The contents of lockout programs, as described in different documents, vary.

The concept of lockout seems to be different in Europe as compared to North America, mainly with respect to: the requirement for written lockout programs; the placement of individual locks on energy isolating devices, and; the need for equipment designed to facilitate lockout.

In addition, regulations on lockout from Africa, Asia and Australia are not very extensive and do not cover as many themes as OSHA 29 CFR 1910.147-The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) which was issued on September 1, 1989.

To download the IRRST report, click here.