Kokosing Materials Complies with Lockout-Tagout
Lockout-tagout, the process of ensuring machinery is properly shut off and unable to start again before maintenance and repair work is completed, should be standard in our industry. However, what should be common knowledge isn’t always common practice.
Making it easy for employees to follow best safety practices means they are more likely to do what they should to stay safe and keep their coworkers safe on the job. That’s why Kokosing Materials Inc., Fredericktown, Ohio, developed its field ID lockout/tagout program. The program, which won NAPA’s 2018 Asphalt Operations Safety Innovation Award, is based on a mobile application that has digitized and centralized the company’s lockout-tagout (LOTO) policies and procedures.
The app gives employees step-by-step instructions to properly lockout a machine. Then, they’re required to verify they’ve completed all steps. Once repairs or maintenance is complete, they jump back into the app to “unlock” that machine. Everything related to LOTO is completed electronically–no paper copies–and all lockouts are recorded for later review in the system.
By placing all of those procedures in every employee’s pocket, via their smartphone, compliance with lockout procedures has increased.
“Our employees are absolutely complying with lockout-tagout procedures more than they used to,” said Kokosing HSE Director Chuck Mull. “With 22 facilities, there isn’t always direct supervision around. It’s a relief to know our teams are being safe out there when it comes to lockout-tagout because they know how to handle it properly.”
In the past, Mull would write up LOTO procedures in Word documents that employees would need to track down before performing and maintenance or repairs. When production has unexpectedly stopped and you’ve got trucks backing up, finding a PDF is often not a top priority.
Personally writing out LOTO procedures for every piece of machinery was also time-consuming for Mull, who would often have to travel to that plant to take photos before writing up the procedure. Now, if Mull needs to prepare a new procedure, he selects its features from the presets available on the backend of the Field ID system and it’s ready to go in 5 minutes.
Kokosing worked with eCompliance, Toronto, formerly known as Masterlock Field ID. Mull had learned about Masterlock at a conference and began working with them to build a custom app for Kokosing’s lockout-tagout procedures. Along the way, Mull and his team offered input on features that would be useful for its employees. For example, Kokosing has also color-coded various types of hazards within the app. Blue is associated with pneumatic hazards and red is associated with electrical hazards.
Another benefit of the app is its simplicity has enabled Kokosing to prepare lockout procedures for less hazardous equipment, like dump trucks. It has also made employees more proactive when it comes to preparing LOTO procedures for new equipment.
In the past, Mull would show up at a plant and see new systems that were already a month old that he wasn’t aware of that didn’t yet have a written lockout procedure.
“Now, when they get a new piece of equipment, they automatically ask us for a new lockout procedure,” Mull said. “Guys are bringing to our attention to hazards that the safety group hasn’t even recognized yet. They aren’t relying on the safety department to tell them what to do. They’re bringing stuff to us.”
This is in stark contrast to employees’ implementation of the program when it first began.
“A lot of the guys aren’t tech savvy,” Mull said. “Getting used to using their smartphones to follow the procedures and getting comfortable with that aspect of it was a challenge at first.”
Initially, employees would look for the LOTO book out of habit, but after using the app a couple of times, their confidence in the new program grew. Kokosing also has a two-day annual review of lockout procedures to ensure everyone knows the proper way to comply.
The Field ID lockout-tagout program has been so successful, Mull said, that it is now being utilized within other divisions of Kokosing Inc.
“Since we starting using the Field ID lockout-tagout program, our culture has really changed in regard to lockout-tagout,” Mull said.