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How does a Lockout/Tagout system work?

Depending on your line of work, the machines you use may have very different safety features. That said, one of the most common is a Lockout/Tagout system, and you can find it on everything from hydraulic equipment to electrical equipment to pneumatic presses -- and much more. Whether you are new to the industry or very experienced, you really should know what this system does and how it works.

Essentially, a Lockout/Tagout system prevents the use of a machine during repairs, maintenance and other corrections. It does this by locking the machine down and using tags to inform other workers not to turn it on under any circumstances.

A hydraulic press is a common example. Say you have a press that jams. You need to lean into the press to clear it. To do so safely, you power the press down first, but you are only too aware that someone else could start it up while you're working on it, not knowing why you shut it down. This could be fatal.

The lockout portion of the safety system shuts the machine down so that no one can turn it on. They need to have a special key, and, in some cases, two workers have to use their keys at the same time. As long as you have your key or card, you know without a doubt that the press will not turn on.

To keep people from trying to circumvent this system, as unlikely as that seems, the warning tags tell them when it got shut down, who did it and why you did it. Communication is crucial to workplace safety.

If you do get injured in an accident on the job, make sure you know your rights.

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