Safety in the workplace is a big part of everyday life. In fact, every employer has a basic legal duty to ensure that the workplace is a safe environment for everyone, workforce and visitors. We may bemoan the influx of health and safety practices, but it is worth remembering these rules and regulations are there for our own protection.
There are many hazards in every workplace – and also in the home, where the vast majority of accidents occur – that need to be attended to. Some come from sources that we take for granted. Take electricity: a vital source of energy in homes and businesses across the world, we rarely stop to think how it is that, when we switch a light on, it simply works!
The truth is there is a very complex set of functions involved in getting the electricity from the power station, where it is generated, to the home, office or industrial complex where it used. Part of that complexity is in making sure it is delivered in usable form.
What Is A Substation?
You will have seen substations; they are present across the land, usually hidden away behind locked fences, and they are there to ensure that you get your electricity at the right voltage. They do this by way of transformers.
Now, like everything, substations need maintenance and sometimes upgrading; the problem is the environment within the substation is fraught with danger, thanks to very high voltage electricity. This is why there are certain practices that need to be carried out to ensure the safety of persons who need to work in the substation.
The most essential safety procedure when it comes to substations is to ensure that only persons who are authorised are permitted within. This is absolutely vital, and one way to ensure it happens is the use of the LOTO procedure. You can turn to Lockout Safety for LOTO training.
LOTO, or lockout-tagout, is used in many areas of industry as a very effective safety precaution. In simple terms, it is a routine that involves limiting access and operation of devices and equipment to authorised personnel. It is done via a physical lock which is tagged with the details of a designated person, who is then responsible for the restarting or, in the case of a substation, re-opening of the tagged and locked area.
LOTO in Substations
LOTO is widely used in substations, with great effect. The procedure will work something like this: the authorised person finishes their work in the substation – it may be routine maintenance, or a switching procedure, or any other required work – and then exits. On doing so, they apply a special lock to secure the substation, and locked also is a tag that contains the details of the person, and any other information required.
Once locked and tagged, the individual who has performed the LOTO procedure is the sole person permitted to reopen the substation. This cannot be over-ruled in any circumstances. Hence, he or she is responsible, and unauthorised personnel cannot gain access.
In the case of heavy machinery, the LOTO personnel would isolate, lock and tag the power source, so that the machine cannot be started by anyone but themselves.
The importance of such safety procedures in the substation environment cannot be overstated. This is an area in which high voltage electricity is ever-present, and it can be very volatile if not treated with care and attention. Injury from high voltage exposure can be severe – even fatal – so every single precaution should be taken, including ensuring your workforce have the right protective clothing.
Check out LOTO training, and make sure that you have the right procedures in place for safety in substations.