A Guide to Lockout Tagout

What is Lockout Tagout?

Lockout tagout (LOTO) is a safety procedure that ensures that dangerous machinery and energy sources are properly shut off and are not started up unexpectedly while maintenance or service work is being completed. Activating the equipment or power source before these tasks are complete puts the person maintaining or servicing it at risk.

Why do we use Lockout Tagout?

If lockout tagout practices are not observed employees can be seriously injured or killed by the machinery or equipment they are working on or around. Such machinery includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Generators
  • Lift Machinery
  • Switch Gear,
  • Distribution Cabinets
  • Devices such as compactors, which use hydraulics.
  • Swimming Pool Plant Equipment

Not all the above will apply to your school, but as I mentioned before, the above list is not comprehensive.

What is a Lockout Tagout Kit and How do I Use It?

Why carwashes must follow lockout and tagout procedures | Professional  Carwashing & Detailing
A typical Lockout Tagout Device

Lockout tagout kits are bundles of lockout tagout devices that can be used for multiple different lockout tagout procedures.  Usually they contain things like tags, padlocks, and other devices that help prevent injury or death, by energised or mechanical equipment.

Typically, a Lockout Tagout Kit, comprises of a device, with clips that prevent a switch from being operated. This works, by clipping the jaws together, through the hole on the switch itself. Then a padlock is connected to the base of the device, to prevent the switch from being operated. Finally, the tag warns others, that the device must not be used and also states who is authorised to remove the lock and the tag.

To summarize, Lockout Tagout is a device which can save lives and prevent injury and death, by locking out electrical and mechanical equipment, while maintenance is carried out. Never remove or cut off a lock, unless you are the person authorised to do so. If you are unsure, ask!

A Guide to Cleaning School Toilets Part 2: (Changing Places Toilets)

What is a Changing Places Toilet?

A Changing Places Toilet, (or also known as a “Hygiene Room”) is a special toilet for completing hygiene tasks for those disabled people who cannot use a regular disabled toilet. These toilets have hoists, a changing table, a perinuclear toilet and other specialist equipment for disabled people. You know, going back 20 years, when I was in my last year at school, we had a Disabled Toilet, but it was far from the standards we see today.

So, Changing Places Toilets are important in schools, as regardless of if you are a Primary School, Secondary School or Special School, having clean facilities is important, especially if you are helping someone with their toileting needs. We have 2 Changes Places Toilets. We have one in B Block and one in Sick Bay on the 3rd floor of J Block. We’re having a 3rd installed in D Block, replacing the Disabled Changing Room for a Changing Places Toilet.

So, we have followed the procedure from my last tutorial, so what do we still have to do? While high dusting, clean the track for the hoist and make sure the hoist moves and can go up and down correctly. Also, lower the hoist and make sure to properly disinfect the entire hoist arm and the hoist hooks. I also clean the part of the hoist that raises and lowers a pupil and is why I always need my steps, when cleaning a Changing Places Toilet.

Then there is the changing table, This isn’t too hard to clean. I spray all surfaces with anti-bac and then wipe clean. While I am there, I also check the paper roll for the changing table and restock the dispensers with gloves and aprons, as needed.

We have toilets in our Hygiene Rooms, which wash and dry a user, so we have to be really careful when cleaning, due to how the toilet works. I usually spray anti-bac onto a cloth and wipe thoroughly. While I am here, I always test the alarm, by yanking the red cord and then reset it. Also, I make sure the red cord has not been tied up or is out of reach.

We have Clinical Waste Bins in our Hygiene Rooms and so they need special disposal. (They cannot go in the normal bin) So I change the bag, spray and wipe the inside and outside of the bin and take the clinical waste bag to the clinical waste bins in J Block. (We have a refuse Room on J Block, as we have a rubbish chute for normal rubbish and clinical waste on each floor. The normal rubbish goes into a big commercial bin, while the clinical waste goes into it’s own separate bin.

Once the floor is washed, soap and paper checked and the sink, hand dryer and soap dispensers are disinfected, that’s job done! Don’t forget to put a wet floor sign up before you leave!

A Guide to Cleaning School Toilets Part 1

Your School Toilets are an important part of your school. So, it is important that we keep our toilets clean and that, is what this guide will help you do.

Prep your Cleaning Cart

  • Bottles Antibacterial Spray for all surfaces
  • Bottles of Toilet Cleaner \ Maintainer
  • Urinal Cakes
  • Bin Bags
  • Paper Towels
  • Soap Refills
  • Toilet Rolls
  • Air Freshener Refills
  • Female Products (Where available)
  • Red Rubber Gloves or disposables
  • Eye Goggles
  • Red Microfibre Cloths
  • Duster On a Pole
  • Blue Paper Roll
  • Wet Floor Sign
  • Red Mop and Bucket, filled with disinfectant
  • Red handled broom or static mop
  • Red Dustpan and Brush
  • Toilet Brush
  • Door Stop

Check the Toilets are Empty

Our 1st job, is to check that the toilet is not occupied. Slightly open the door and clearly announce your presence. “Hello it’s Mr Smith, is anyone in here?” I usually do this twice. Next, prop the door open, using the door stop. Now place a wet floor sign over the doorway. If anyone enters the toilet, explain your cleaning the toilets and direct them to the next nearest facilities.

Spray… Spray… Spray!

Next, get your bottle of antibac and give all surfaces a good spray. This includes the toilet itself, all cubicles, the sinks, mirrors, towel dispensers, hand dryers (where fitted) vanity tops, (where fitted) door frames, bins, urinals, and dispensers etc. Next is litter picking, while we leave the chemicals to cure.

Pick up any litter, such as drinks bottles, paper towels, loo paper etc and put that into the bin in the toilet. Next, empty the bin and replace the liner, remembering to give the inside of the bin a wipe with your microfibre cloth and spray bottle. Now give the floor a good sweep, either with your broom or the static mop. Work from the furthest point from the door and work backward. Use the dustpan and brush to remove the swept dust from the floor and dispose of it in the bin bag on the back of your trolley. Now replace all the consumables. – Toilet rolls, paper towels, female hygiene products, soap, air freshener refills etc. Also, if you notice anything broken or not working, now is the time to jot it down.

High Dusting – Getting Rid of Dust From Above!

High dusting is important, as lots of dust gathers on surfaces, such as window sills, the tops of cubicles and in extractor fans. For this, I use my duster on a pole. This saves me time, as I do not need to get up on a step ladder to high dust. Make sure any cobwebs are also removed from pipework and round the ceiling.

I also high dust the Urinal Tank and pipes, while I am at it. Next, make sure to wipe down the cubical walls, frames and doors, using your micropore cloth. If your cloth gets dirty, put it back on your trolley and grab a new one. I keep a nappy sack for my dirty cloths, so I don’t cross contaminate.

Clean the Toilets \ Urinals

Now wipe the exterior of the toilet. Pay attention to the base of the bowl, around the drain pipe, the cistern and flush handle, the seat. (on both sides), The porcelain top, outer rim, seat hinges and of course the drain collar. Sometimes, this needs extra antibac spray, so feel free to spray again, as you wipe.

For the inside of the bowl, use a loo brush to push as much water out the pan as you can. Now clean inside the bowl, using toilet cleaner. I usually let the toilet cleaner soak for a few mins, so we shall come back to that shortly. (Don’t forget to leave the loo seat up!)

Give the Urinals a good scrub too, with toilet cleaner and the toilet brush. Pay attention to the base of the flush nozzle and the drain. If there are any bits of debris, (Especially around the drain) get those out by hand, (making sure you wear gloves, while doing so) and don’t forget to replace the urinal deodorizer \ urinal screen, (If appropriate) while you are at it.

If a toilet is blocked, attack it with your plunger! Get a good seal around drain on the inside and give it a good push, to dislodge the blockage. If that is not possible, report it, lock the cubical \ toilet out of use and place a out of order sign on the door. Make sure that you report the blockage as soon as possible. The same goes for sinks and urinals too.

Cleaning the Sink, Mirrors and Tiles.

Spray antibac onto a microfibre cloth and give the entire sink a good going over, paying special attention to the taps, the overflow and the outlet. Next, clean the vanity top and the tiles the same way. For the mirror, spray glass cleaner onto the surface and use a blue paper towel to wipe downwards. This will give you a smear free finish.

Back to the Toilets and the metal monstrosities we call the “Trough Urinals!”

Now that the toilet cleaner has soaked for a bit, get your loo brush and give the toilet a good scrub, paying special attention to the waterline and under the rim. Once cleaned, give the toilet a flush and lower the seat. Don’t forget to disinfect the outside of Sanitary Bins while you are at it!

Give the floor a good moppin’

Wash the floor, using a mop and bucket, working from the far corner, working in a figure of 8 pattern. When it comes to the cubicle, make sure that sanitary bins are moved , as you mop. Also move the litter bin, so you can mop underneath it.

Check your work

Check that everything is ship shape and go back to fix any issues. Now remove any cleaning items used. Leave the wet floor sign in situ, until the floor is dry and return your trolley to your cleaning store.

In Part 2, we will look at cleaning a Hygiene Room, also known as as a Changing Places Toilet. These facilities need a higher level of cleaning, which we will go into next time.

Microwave Fires Are No Joke

Microwaves can be brilliant for reheating food, but they can have a very affect, if a fire takes hold. This evening, Kyle had put a steamed pudding in the microwave and was mithered by Josh, as he was going on about going to a sleep over, we had already said he can’t attend. (Due to various reasons I can’t go into) So, Kyle put 30 mins, instead of 30 seconds on the microwave. Then he got distracted again, as he was paged for work. So, he didn’t know the food was burning.

It wasn’t until I took plates out to the kitchen, that I spotted smoke billowing from the microwave. So I went into emergency mode straight away, set off the fire alarm and then operated the kitchen emergency stop. I switched on the cooker hood and then opened the door and attacked the flames with a C02 Fire Extinguisher, while Jenny called the Fire Brigade. Thankfully, by the time they got to us, I had put the fire out.

So here is what you should do if your microwave catches fire:

  • First alert everyone else in the house, shout FIRE!
  • Make sure your kitchen door is shut, (if practical)
  • Cut the power, by switching off the microwave at the mains socket. If you cannot reach the mains socket, turn the power off at the fuse box. This will suffocate the fire.
  • If the fire is small and you can contain it, follow the below instructions. If not, get out the house and call 999.
  • If you have a cooker hood, switch it on full or open the window, to let the smoke out.
  • Carefully open the door, but do so standing at the side of microwave, so you do not get hit by the smoke.
  • Use a Fire Blanket or a C02 Fire Extinguisher to smother the fire.
  • Do not touch the microwave until it has fully cooled down.

Fire Alarm Activation

I have just got back from School, due to a Fire Alarm Activation. The Fire Alarm was set off by staff burning toast, but still required a site visit from myself, to reset the system.

Lets have a look at how a Fire Alarm System works.

At the heart of the system, is the Control Panel. The Control Panel is the main interface for the system and can be used for various functions. For instance, you can reset the alarm, silence the sounders and access system event logs. 90% of Control Panels are coded, so you have to type a four digit code to be able to access the “Supervisor Functions.” Our system requires a key, to be able to access system functions. Some systems have repeater panels, which also provides information on a fire condition, such as the location and zone. Our system is addressable, which means it can detect what dictator has been activated and the exact location.

EG: Smoke Detector, J Block (Jets Unit) Room F23 or Break Glass, J Block (Jets Unit) Lounge

Detectors come in 2 types, Heat and Smoke. Smoke Alarms detect smoke, which causes a beam to be broken, which sends a signal to the Control Panel and causes the sounders to activate. Heat Detectors on the other hand, detect heat build up. Once the heat reaches the alarm threshold, it causes the alarm to be activated.

The Sounders can either be electronic sounders or bells or a combination of both. We have bells in the Main School and electronic sounders in J Block. These are backed up by the Flashers, which give a visual warning that the alarm is sounding. Also, the Magnetic Door Holders will de-energise, causing doors that are held open, to close on a fire alarm condition.

The Lift Interface is a clever bit of kit, as it causes the lift to automictically go to the re-call floor. (Usually the Ground Floor) However, if the alarm is sounding on the floor that is used as a recall floor, the lift will go to the next level. Once on that level, the doors will open and the controls will lock, preventing the lift from moving.

The Auto Dialler does exactly what it says. Most auto diallers call the Fire Brigade automatically, but this has flaws, as false alarms can cause the Fire Brigade to be called out unnecessarily. We have ours set to automatically bleep me, via my Pager. (Yes, I still use a Pager!) The system automatically sends me a message with the location of the fire.

FIRE ALARM – SMOKE DETECTOR – J BLOCK (JETS UNIT) ROOM F23

So when I attended School, I had to put my Fire Alarm Key into the Control Panel and turn it to “Controls Enabled”. Next, I press the Silence Alarm. This stops the sounders from sounding. Finally, I press Reset, to reset the system. If there is still smoke or fire, the alarm will sound again. This is a failsafe operation.

By the main Fire Alarm Panel for each building, (or in the case of the main school, next to the repeater panels by each block entrance) is a cabinet with a phone in it. This is for the phone for the “Refuge Area”, which connects a disabled person using the refuge area, to the person in charge, at the main panel.

Each week, I test the system, by activating one of the manual call points and also by making sure the sounders \ bells go off. This is a legal requirement, under the he Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Also under the act, each time there is a “Fire Alarm Incident”, it must be logged in the Fire Alarm Log Book, as well as every time the alarm is tested.

Once a year, we also have a Contractor come in, who tests the Fire Alarm System. During this test, the smoke \ heat detectors are checked, using specialist tools, the panels are thoroughly checked and the break glass units are also thoroughly checked.

Dealing with Body Fluids

I have just come back from dealing with someone on Sick Bay, who had vomited all over the floor. Our school policy is to bleep Domestic Services during the day (7am – 3pm every day) or page me out of hours on a body fluid spill. So being that it was 11pm that this happened, I got paged to come to Sick Bay  to clear it up.  (I only live round the corner from school.)

So, I attended and needed the following kit:

  • Body Fluids Kit (We have one on each unit, including Sick Bay)
  • Blue Mop Bucket and a Blue Mop
  • 2 Bleach Tablets dissolved in 5L of water
  • Blue Paper Roll
  • Disposable Apron
  • Disposable Gloves
  • Safety Goggles
  • Wet Floor Sign

Once, I had everything I needed and I had the correct PPE; (Personal Protective Equipment) I put up a yellow “Wet Floor Sign and  sprinkled the absorbent powder onto the vomit. Using the paper roll, I slowly  scooped it up. and then used the spills kit hazardous waste bag to dump the blue roll and the vomit. Then using a socket mop and bucket, I washed the area of floor with diluted bleach solution, leaving the wet floor sign in place; until the floor has dried. The mop head went into the red infected laundry bag in the sluice room and will be taken down to the laundry, by the Unit Housekeeper in the morning.

Remember: When dealing with any body fluid, (regardless if it is urine, vomit, blood, faces or semen) you must wear PPE. It is safety first. – Wear disposable \ thick rubber gloves, an  apron and goggles. (when working with chemicals) You must also remember to stick to the correct colour coding of equipment. Please read this post, to find our  more information about colour coding when cleaning.