A lock box is a pretty common term in the real-estate business, as well as in the banking industry. However, it also means something to those in industrial and manufacturing: safety. These items, when used with a proper lockout system, act as a fail-safe device that will ensure no machines are activated while maintenance is being performed on them.
This may not seem like a big thing since each machine can theoretically be locked out individually. However, some manufacturing systems are so intrinsically linked that starting up one system may cause the next machine to start working as well. Needless to say, lock boxes are here to stay in manufacturing safety.
How do lock boxes work?
There are a variety of lock boxes available, but the theory behind each one remains the same. The activation keys are locked into a box that each worker affixes a lock to. This ensures that unless every person working on it is done, the machine cannot be started up at any time.
Preparing your people for lock boxes
If you don’t have a lock box for your maintenance people yet, now might be a good time to get one. Make sure each person doing maintenance is properly briefed on the policies and procedures in using the lock box, and more importantly, the theory behind it.
This important step ensures that your employees understand the need for having such a device. This also justifies to your employees the additional safety steps that they may have to make in their day to day operations.
When selecting a lock box, be sure that there are enough holes for everyone’s locks. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem since there are single lock boxes which can go as high as 27 locks. If that’s not enough, modular lock boxes are also available that allowing you to expand them by connecting multiple units together.
Fixed or portable lock boxes?
Another thing to consider is whether to have a portable or a fixed lock box.
Portable lock boxes require no modification of your facility whatsoever. They also allow workers to go about their daily business without having to go to the lock box, since their supervisor can take one along during the shift. However, they are also less secure and can easily get lost, especially in a busy work environment.
Fixed lock boxes are more secure and are easy to see. Some models even have space for lockout tags and other things you will need to keep a good lockout-tagout system running. However, they will require that you mount them properly in your facility, which requires that you have some wall space. In addition, your workers will have to drop by the station regularly, which means an additional step in their everyday operations if it isn’t placed in a convenient location.
While it’s easy to see the value of having a lock box as part of your lockout-tagout system, its usefulness is directly proportional to the willingness of your employees to utilize it. That said, with proper training and a proper attitude, these boxes will work to keep your people safe. Think of it as just another tool in never ending struggle to keep people safe.
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