What Does Energy Isolating Device Mean?
An energy isolating device is a mechanical component added to hazardous equipment in order to physically prevent an accidental release of hazardous energy.
Energy isolating devices are used as part of lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures, which aim to prevent injury from equipment and machinery during maintenance, inspections, and installations.
Safeopedia Explains Energy Isolating Device
Hazardous sources of energy include not only electricity but also radiation, chemical, thermal, pneumatic, and hydraulic energy, among others. As such, there are various types of energy isolating devices, including:
- Manually operated electrical circuit breakers
- Disconnect switches
- Restraints to prevent the movement of parts
It does not, however, include push buttons, selector switches, and the like, as these direct the flow of energy rather than isolate it.
The Importance of LOTO Procedures
A lockout/tagout procedure consists of preventing the potential release of energy within a system (lockout) the application of a label indicating that the equipment is locked and the procedure for reactivating it (tagout). Once the equipment has been tagged, it must not be operated until the lockout procedure has been complete and the normal functioning of the equipment has been restored.
Lockout devices use active means of controlling the release of energy, such as locking a component of the equipment in place, bolting an energy isolating device in place, or securing a cage over the equipment's control panel.
These procedures are used to ensure the safety of those performing maintenance tasks on the equipment, as well as those who are repairing, installing, inspecting, or moving it. Isolating the energy sources prevents the accidental release of energy, which can cause a component of the equipment to move unexpectedly, deliver an electric shock, or otherwise cause serious injury.
Steps to a Successful LOTO Procedure
To keep workers and technicians safe, the lockout/tagout procedure must be thorough and carried out to the letter. The following steps will ensure that a LOTO procedure is done well:
- Prepare - An authorized employee reviews the work order and associated paperwork for safe work practices, then identifies the types of hazardous energy that need to be controlled.
- Notify - Notify all affected employees that the equipment will be isolated. Instruct them to stay away from the equipment and not operate it until given the go-ahead.
- Shut Down - Shut down the equipment and de-energize it.
- Isolate - Apply energy-isolating devices to control the release of energy (do not use the equipment's operating controls). Lock any physical barriers into place.
- Tag - Fill out the necessary information on the tag and apply it to the device.
- Release Stored Energy - Look for stored or residual energy within the equipment and ensure it is relieved or disconnected.
- Verify - Check to make sure the equipment has been successfully de-energized by attempting to activate it using its normal operating controls.