Tips for Safely Working on Industrial Equipment

Industrial equipment can be hazardous. Moving parts, electricity, heat or pressurized gas and liquids are all examples of potential dangers a person might face when working on machinery. Companies are often required to ensure employees or contractors working on potentially dangerous equipment are doing so safely. Businesses may consider taking steps to create a safe work environment when industrial equipment is involved.

Lockout/Tagout

A lockout/tagout procedure prevents potentially hazardous machines from being used while repairs or maintenance are in-process. Prior to beginning work, the worker places a lock and tag on the machine’s energy sources. The lock ensures the equipment cannot be used until that worker unlocks it again. The tag notifies others in the area that the machine may not be used. In many cases, a padlock may be sufficient to lock out a machine. A specialized lock, such as a valve lock or breaker lock, may also be required.

Personal Protective Equipment

To protect workers while they are around industrial equipment, ensure they are outfitted with proper safety gear. Hard hats, safety glasses and steel-toed shoes are common examples of personal protective equipment, or PPE, for industrial settings. Heat-resistant gloves may prevent burns when working with hot equipment. A respirator can be used to avoid inhalation of dangerous vapors or particulate generated by certain types of equipment.

Written Procedures

To reduce inconsistency and ambiguity in how workers approach dangerous equipment, it may be beneficial to have detailed procedures written and readily available. Procedures can specify how to turn equipment on/off and how each machine feature works. Procedures can also require workers to follow the correct order of operations to reduce the likelihood of mishaps.

Injuries from working on industrial machines are unfortunate for employers and workers alike. Preventing use of a machine during maintenance, requiring workers wear PPE, and having clear, accessible procedures may help avoid these injuries.