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Lockout/Tagout Safety

Safety Posters Library
Lockout/Tagout Guide in Spanish

A lockout/tagout standard protects employees from injury and death while servicing equipment by preventing unexpected startup of equipment. The purpose of the lockout/tagout standard is to ensure the power source is shut off prior to work being done. OSHA requires that specific procedures are followed, that training is provided, and that a written program is in place.

Written Program
OSHA standards require that a written policy is in place and training is accomplished to have a fully-functioning program. Programs must include the purpose of lockout/tagout, compliance needs from employees and the sequence of lockout and the re-energizing of equipment. Authorized employees are required to inspect the lockout devices and review lockout procedures. Both authorized and affected employees are required to review tagout procedures.

Lockout/tagout procedures should be machine-specific as well. An easy way to do this is to type up the lockout and re-energizing procedures, laminate them, and place them on the machine. This serves as a checklist to the employee performing maintenance on the equipment.

Employees must be trained according to their hazard exposure. There are three types of employees: authorized employees, affected employees, and other employees.

  • Authorized employees actually perform the maintenance work and must be trained in proper lockout/tagout procedures. They lock or tagout the equipment or machinery in order to service or maintain it. Training must include recognition of hazardous energy sources, type and magnitude of the energy in the workplace, and methods and means necessary for energy isolation and control. All maintenance employees should be reminded to lock, tag, and check any equipment prior to performing maintenance on it. Checking the equipment before maintenance work is important because of stored energy issues. Energy can be stored by electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, and gravitational energy sources. Testing the power prior to servicing can eliminate an accidental startup that might lead to an injury. In some instances, an electrician will be required to test or disconnect circuits and drain and ground capacitors. Some larger machines may be serviced by more than one breaker or motor. Also, feeders, conveyors, and other nearby equipment may need to be locked out and tagged so as to not create a work area hazard.
  • Affected employees may work with or around the equipment, but are not responsible for maintaining it. They may also work in an area where the equipment is being used. These employees must be trained to understand the purpose of lockout/tagout, to recognize when lockout/tagout devices are being used, and to stay out of areas where work is being performed.
  • Other employees, including office staff, are not in direct contact with the equipment at any time during the work shift, but should receive basic electrical and lockout/tagout safety training. These employees should be prohibited from attempting to restart equipment that has been locked or tagged out. For example, an air conditioning unit may be shut off for repair affecting the temperature of the office for an afternoon. Office personnel are not authorized to start air conditioning equipment or adjust master temperature controls.

Retraining should be provided for all authorized and affected employees when there is a:

  • Change in job assignments
  • Change in machines, equipment, or processes
  • Change in energy control procedure
  • Close-call event
  • Failure in the procedures
  • Reason to doubt employee proficiency

Lockout devices must be durable and cannot be removed by anyone other than the individual who placed the device on the energy source. Tags can be used without locks, only according to OSHA standards. Tags must also be durable, weather proof, self-locking, non-reusable, and have the characteristics of a nylon cable tie. Some companies are now using tags with employees’ pictures on them to personalize the process. The lock and tag must be marked and assigned to only one individual. In group lockout situations, each member of the group must have their own lock and tag attached to the group lockout device or master-key lockbox.

Rules For Tag Use
Warning signs must be listed on the tag including:

  • Do not start
  • Do not open
  • Do not close
  • Do not energize
  • Do not operate

Training must be given to employees on the limitations of tags to prevent them from gaining a false sense of security. They must be told that the tags are only a warning device, must only be removed by the individual that placed it there, must be legible, must withstand environmental conditions, and must be securely attached.

Restoring Energy
Before energy is restored, the employee performing maintenance must alert all “affected” employees that could be impacted by potential circuit energizing and/or equipment startup. Also, the employee restoring the power must ensure that no other employees are in harm’s way during startup. All lockout/tagout devices must be removed as well as all tools that have been used during servicing or maintenance.

Lockout/tagout is a detailed approach to safety that provides control over energy sources that could injure workers during servicing and equipment startup. Every employer must have lockout/tagout procedures in place to ensure safety during equipment and machinery servicing and repair.

Additional Resources
WCF Insurance Safety Department
(385) 351-8103

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NOTICE: This guide may make reference to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations; however the guide is not legal advice as to compliance with OSHA or other safety laws, codes, or regulations. Compliance with OSHA and other safety laws codes or regulations, and maintaining a safe work environment for your employees remains your responsibility. WCF Insurance does not undertake to perform the duty of any person to provide for the health or safety of your employees. WCF Insurance does not warrant that your workplace is safe or healthful, or that it complies with any laws, regulations, codes, or standards.

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