Only locks designed for the role should be used for safety lockout. High res version of this image available here
Physically locking the controls of machinery or processes to prevent them being activated when workers might be exposed to danger – a procedure known as Lock Out/Tag Out (LOTO) - is a widely adopted accident prevention strategy in industry. However, unless such practices form part of a coherent overall safety strategy, vulnerable workers may not be fully protected. Using shop-bought padlocks as personal safety devices is a potentially fatal practice, warns Master Lock.
“Effective LOTO procedures ultimately rely on the integrity of individual locking devices”, comments Master Lock’s European marketing manager, Kieran MacCourt. “That's why it's critical that only locks designed for safety applications should be used in the LOTO role. A lock that breaks easily, can be circumvented or removed by someone other than the key holder is in some ways more dangerous than no lock at all because it can engender a completely false sense of security.”
“Most padlocks available to the public were not designed or intended to be used in life-threatening situations,” says MacCourt. “Industrial environments are invariably harsh and frequent heavy use in these environments subjects the padlock to high levels of wear, leading to failure and potentially lethal consequences.”
Many padlocks designed for occasional or domestic use also have comparatively simple locking mechanisms and few key combinations, meaning that the chances of keys other than the original being able to unlock it are unacceptably high. “There are surprising few key variations in many domestic padlocks”, continues MacCourt, “And usually no restrictions on the creation of duplicate keys. Once you have multiple keys for a safety lock in circulation, the entire system is compromised.”
Master Lock's Safety Series padlocks have been designed specifically for LOTO applications in industrial environments. As well as being extremely robust and clearly identifiable as safety devices, Safety Series locks have non-duplicable keys meaning they can only be removed by the worker who placed them.
Master Lock will be demonstrating its range of professional LOTO equipment at Safety & Health 2012, Hall 1 I44. The company also offers a number of free guides and information on its website at http://www.safetyseries.co.uk/to help safety and facilities managers develop effective LOTO strategies and control the use of unauthorised locks in safety applications.
Notes for editors:
Master Lock was founded in 1921 and is the world’s largest manufacturer of padlocks. The company caters for a wide variety of markets and has been responsible for numerous innovations, including the invention of the laminated steel padlock. Information on the comprehensive Master Lock range of specialist LOTO equipment is also available at http://www.safetyseries.co.uk/