Most manufacturing facilities use compressed air to power their production lines, but improper management of this unseen utility during routine maintenance and emergency situations can have serious consequences. Proper installation and use of a simple device like a pneumatic lockout valve (AKA pneumatic isolation device) can prevent personal injury and death, but most facilities do not take the time to install such devices. Pneumatic lockout valves carry such high importance that OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) audits facilities for proper lockout/tagout procedures and devices.
The OSHA standard that covers proper use of lockout valves is the Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout). This standard states that all machinery must have a proper device and procedure to neutralize the energy, thus shutting the machine off during routine maintenance and emergency situations. In fiscal year 2019, OSHA wrote enough lockout/tagout violations that improper control of hazardous energy made it to #4 on their list of Top 10 frequently cited standards. These citations fall into either the Serious or Willful category. A serious violation (substantial probability of injury or death is present) carries a penalty of $13,653 and a willful violation (committed with intentional disregard for OSHA standards) carries a penalty of $136,532. Even with the potential for these hefty fines, most manufacturers do not want to invest in lockout valves. As a cost comparison, lets look at a serious violation ($13,653 per violation penalty) vs the cost of a Parker Transair pneumatic lockout valve. On average, the cost of just one serious violation for improper control of hazardous energy is 45.5 times more than the cost of one Parker Transair pneumatic lockout valve!
OSHA only enforces the use of a energy isolation device (i.e. lockout valve), they do not define what constitutes a lockout valve. The definition of a lockout valve is determined by ANSI B11.0 and PMMI B155.1. These standards list four criteria that a device needs to meet to be considered an energy isolation device:
Now that we know the criteria, lets take each one and analyze how the Parker Transair FLV series of pneumatic lockout valves meets the criteria for an energy isolation device.
The purpose of a lockout valve is to quickly expel the pressurized compressed air in the lines and shutting off the machine. This is done for maintenance and emergency situations. When the handle of the lockout valve is pushed inward, it shuts-off the flow of compressed air and vents the downstream pressure out the exhaust port. Once the handle has been pushed in, a lock can be placed on the handle, preventing the handle from being pulled out and resuming the flow of compressed air to the machine prematurely. Unlike a ball valve that can be locked in both the open and closed positions, the Parker Transair lockout valve can only be locked with the handle is pushed in, cutting off the flow of compressed air.
In the unfortunate event that an emergency shut-off is required, no one wants to be fumbling around trying to find what valve will shut-off the flow of compressed air. To achieve this criteria, Parker Transair lockout valves are painted a bright safety yellow color with a red handle. The yellow and red stands out and is easily identifiable as the compressed air line shut-off.
Energy isolation devices need to have some method of visible showing if the device is under pressure or not. The type of indicator is not specified, so a lockout valve can use either an electronic meter or a simple manual pop-up indicator. The Transair lockout valve uses the time tested manual pop-up indicator. On these indicators, the red button will be visible when the valve is under pressure. The red button will retract when the compressed air has been successfully vented from the valve.
Expelling compressed air from a line should be done as quickly as possible. This fact is why all energy isolation devices need to have a large exhaust port. In comparison, a vented ball valve has a tiny port, most of the times less than 1inch! This small hole does not vent the air fast enough and could potentially concentrate the compressed air into a dangerous stream if the pressure gets high enough. For this reason, Parker has engineered our lockout valve to have a bigger exhaust port to expel the compressed air as fast as possible. This expelled air can create a loud whooshing sound. To quiet this action, Parker Transair offers three sizes of silencers to match the exhaust port.
Transair lockout valves are available with either a 1/2", 3/4", 1". 1-1/2", or 2" NPT threaded inlet ports. To simplify connections between lockouts valves and Transair aluminum compressed air piping, we suggest the use of Transair threaded connectors. These connectors feature a NPT threaded end to be used on the lockout valve and either a push to connect or snap ring end to connect to Transair aluminum pipe. Our threaded end connectors are available in several different configurations to allow the installation to be customized to the environment. .
Pneumatic lockout valves offer the control over compressed air that manufacturing facilities need. Coupling these valves with a well thought out lockout/tagout procedure document will keep OSHA from citing your facility for improper control of hazardous energy. The Parker Transair lockout valve meets the four criteria that every energy isolation device needs to meet, with the added superior engineering you expect from Parker Hannifin products. Visit our website or contact us to learn more about Parker Transair line of lockout valves, aluminum piping, and FRLs!
This post was contributed by Jim Tuma, marketing services manager, Parker Fluid System Connectors Division.