Understanding Circuit Breaker Lockout Procedures in Compliance with Australian Standards
During repair or service of electrical equipment, a circuit breaker lockout is attached to prevent accidental energisation. To ensure these devices are correctly used, there are safety protocols that need to be followed. This is where circuit lockout procedures come in.
These procedures include actions to physically secure circuit breakers in the off position to maintain employee safety and make sure electrical systems are protected. Companies need to comply with these regulations and standards as part of electrical safety in various industries. Overall, these procedures prevent any unauthorised activation during repair, maintenance or service.
The key steps in a circuit breaker lockout procedure are as follows:
- Identify the Circuit
- Inform relevant personnel about planned lockout activity
- Turn off the power supply to the equipment
- Check that the circuit is de-energised
- Identify and isolate energy sources
- Install lockout devices
- Attach Lockout tags with clear information
- Discharge equipment of stored energy
- Recheck for deenergisation
- Complete maintenance or repair work
- Restore power
- Test if the circuit is operating correctly after lockout
- Notify personnel that lockout is removed
- Maintain detailed records of lockout tagout procedures
The Importance of Complying with Australian Standards
Like lockout tagout or other procedures, circuit breaker lockout procedures need to adhere to Australian standards and safety protocols. It provides a structured and legally compliant way to minimise risk, protect workers and equipment and promote a culture of safety. Here is why it plays an important role in many industries:
- Workforce Safety: With thorough measures in place, it may help prevent electrical accidents that could result in shocks, burns or other fatalities.
- Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Being aligned to and complying with state or national-level regulations like the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act can reduce penalties, fines or legal actions due to non-compliance.
- Consistency: Have a set of defined guidelines for lockouts of circuit breakers. By ensuring correct and uniform implementation, it reduces any risk of errors.
- Risk mitigation: Assessing and taking into account the latest safety technologies helps organisations identify and manage risks effectively. Thereby also reducing the chance of electrical hazards.
- Equipment Protection: Accidentally energising circuits during maintenance can be an expensive affair for organisations. By properly following lockout procedures, they save money and help avoid causing damage to systems and equipment.
- Accountability and Documentation: Track the details of who has performed lockout and when along with the reason to ensure processes are carried out as intended.
- Training and Awareness: By setting standards, they serve as the foundation for training programmes. When the workforce is made aware and properly trained in procedures, the competence in implementing electrical safety is higher. This also helps with implementing best safety practices and can continuously improve lockout procedures.
Non-compliance with standards can have severe legal and regulatory implications on both individuals and organisations. This can be criminal charges due to negligence or recklessness under Work Health and Safety (WHS) Laws or Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, civil liabilities or lawsuits by injured parties, legal penalties like fines for non-compliance, reputation damage, regulatory enforcement actions after inspections and more.
Australian Standards for Circuit Breaker Lockout Procedures
Several Australian regulatory boards play a role in the workplace health and safety. In particular, the AS/NZS 4836:2011 focuses on safe work practices when working on or near low-voltage electrical installations and equipment. It outlines guidelines intended to ensure safety requirements by following procedures and managing electrical hazards.
The AS 4024.1603-2006 highlights the safety of machinery which includes the design of controls, interlocks and guards. It also includes the prevention of unexpected start-up.
In addition, the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 specifies particular requirements related to Electrical Safety and Energised Electrical Work. Some of these regulations include:
- Electrical work must not be carried out on electrical equipment while the equipment is energised
- No accidental reenergisation of electrical equipment when the work is being carried out
- A qualified person tests equipment to check if it is energised or not
Common Challenges Organisations Face in Complying with these Standards
Complying with procedures can present obstacles for organisations. This could be synonymous with complex procedures, lack of direction or process. Some of the most common challenges include:
- Lack of awareness of relevant or important standards
- Resistance to change from employees or management
- Communication gaps or lack of clarity
- Complex electrical systems make it difficult to implement procedures
- Limited Resources or inadequate equipment to support maintenance or service work
- Regulatory Changes that can be costly and time-consuming
- Time constraints or maintenance challenges in facilities with high uptime requirements
The way to overcome these challenges is to recognise where you are falling short and work on making improvements. Whether it is investing in training, putting together clear policies or allocating resources appropriately. Regular audits can help in the upkeep of these challenges.
At Tuffa Products, we have the right tools to help you with the circuit breaker lockout procedure. We are a trusted supplier of safety products and solutions to help organisation comply and meet the highest safety standards. Explore our range of Circuit Breaker Lockouts here and buy online with quick and easy ordering.