X. Lockout-Tagout Guidelines

Logging operations must have procedures that minimize unauthorized or unexpected starting of equipment, energizing of circuits, or opening of valves or isolation devices, which may injure people or damage equipment. All logging employers must be in compliance with the OSHA Law for the Lockout-Tagout Standards as they apply and pertain to logging operations.

Harvesting timber requires the use of a variety of machines to perform the particular job necessary. Skidders, feller bunchers, knuckleboom loaders, whole tree chippers, and many more machines are used in today's logging industry. Each machine and its components are powered, or energized, differently. The predominant energy systems used to power logging machines and their components are gasoline and diesel engine, hydraulic oil pressure, electrical, and air pressure. With each energy source there are hazards that must be addressed for personal safety as well as equipment safety when maintenance and repair are necessary. Often times logging contractors as well as workers forget that leaving energy sources unchecked and uncontrolled can be a fatal mistake.

The Lockout-Tagout Guidelines were developed and enacted to prevent unnecessary accidents from occurring due to uncontrolled energy sources being activated while machines and equipment are undergoing maintenance. The fundamental rule is: no device or equipment to which a lock or tag is attached shall be operated. Compliance with the law will prevent the employer from being penalized by law and permit valued workers to do their jobs more efficiently and safely.

Very simple examples of Lockout-Tagout in logging are the use of stops on hydraulic cylinders to prevent an unexpected fall as the result of hydraulic pressure loss, grounding of the skidder blade and grapple when machine is stopped, and resting a feller buncher head on a wooden block instead of suspending the head in the air during maintenance or repair. These are only a few preventive measures. If the appropriate Lockout-Tagout Guidelines and the proper safety practices are implemented, many accidents can and will be avoided.

The basic Lockout-Tagout Guidelines are:

  1. Establish a written Lockout-Tagout Plan for the operations.
  2. The responsibilities for applying Locks and Tags are: a. They will be placed by operators or maintenance personnel, or both, as appropriate for their protection. b. Each employee shall attach his own lock or tag before performing any work.
  3. Locking Out Mechanical Equipment:
    When maintenance is required on mechanical equipment or devices powered by water, oil, gas, air, steam, or other energy sources, all connected clutches, control levers, valves, cylinders, etc. will be locked and tagged out by the operator and mechanic using the following procedure:
    a. Notify supervisor.
    b. Operator will close valves, relieve system pressure, drain system, etc. Care must be taken to assure that a liquid energy source cannot enter system through by-pass valves.
    c. Put their own locks and tags on the device, equipment, or component.
    d. Check to be certain a start of equipment will not jeopardize persons in the area.
    e. Activate the start button to make certain the equipment will not run.
    f. Complete the work assignment. Replace all guards removed when work is completed.
    g. Remove locks and tags.
    h. Notify supervisor when work is completed.
  4. Locking Out Electrical Equipment:
    When maintenance is required on equipment, devices, or components powered by electricity the system will be locked or tagged out by the operator and mechanic using the following procedure:
    a. Notify supervisor.
    b. Shut down equipment.
    c. Put their own locks and tags on the equipment.
    d. Pull breaker in the motor control center (MCC), using electrical personnel assistance if necessary. Never use a
    push button to lockout equipment.
    e. After locking and tagging out, make sure the equipment is clear of any personnel. Then try to start the equipment. If
    the equipment does not start, proceed with work.
    f. Complete the work assignment. Replace all guards removed when work is completed.
    g. Remove locks and tags.
    h. Notify supervisor of job completion.
  5. When several operators or maintenance employees are working on the equipment which requires locking or tagging out, multiple locks and tags shall be used. Workers must be trained in the use of the Lockout-Tagout Procedures.
  6. These are the basic guidelines for implementing the Lockout-Tagout Standards. Contact applicable state and federal regulatory offices to obtain more details of the law and its requirements.