OSHA published their “control of hazardous energy” standard, also known as “Lockout/Tagout”, way back in 1989. This new standard required employers to develop and implement a program that effectively identified all hazardous energy sources so they could be isolated or controlled when one or more employees were performing maintenance or service on equipment or machinery which could be unknowingly started or release stored energy.

In spite of this comprehensive OSHA standard, many workers throughout the USA continue to suffer needless injuries, and some even die, because someone purposely takes a shortcut or accidentally commits an unsafe act without fully understanding the potential ramifications. This is why OSHA requires that ALL workers be informed of their responsibilities when it comes to implementing an effective Lockout/Tagout program.

Three Classes of Employees:

  • Authorized Employees  - A person who performs servicing or maintenance on a machine or equipment under the protection of a Lockout/Tagout program.
  • Affected EmployeesAn employee whose job required him/her to operate or use a machine or equipment on which servicing or maintenance is being performed by an Authorized employee under Lockout/Tagout, or whose job required him/her to work in an area in which such servicing or maintenance is being performed.
  • Other EmployeesAn employee who may be in an area where Lockout/Tagout procedures might be utilized by others.

What are the responsibilities of an Authorized Employee?

  • Properly shut down equipment/machines. Assistance from the Affected Employee may be necessary to ensure proper shutdown and identification of isolation locations.
  • Apply locks/tags.
  • Verbally notify all Affected and Other Employees about the shutdown, and explains the purpose and use of the specific energy control procedure to be applied.
  • Once work is complete, notifies all Affected and Other Employees about the removal of locks/tags and impending restart.

What are the responsibilities of an Affected Employee?

  • Provide assistance to the Authorized Employee, as requested, to ensure proper shutdown and identification of isolation locations.
  • Do not attempt to start equipment/machines that are locked out or tagged out.
  • Do not attempt to remove or tamper with locks or tags for any reason.

What is lockout/tagout (LO/TO)?

Lockout/tagout refers to specific practices and procedures to safeguard employees from the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities.

  • Lockout - Temporarily shutting off power from an electrical source using a lock to prevent electricity from being released.
  • Tagout - The use of a “danger” tag indicating an electrical power source has been shut off and cannot be used until the danger tag is removed.

What must workers do before they begin service or maintenance activities?

Before beginning service or maintenance, the following steps must be accomplished in sequence and according to the specific provisions of the employer’s energy-control procedure:

  1. Prepare for shutdown.
  2. Shut down the machine.
  3. Disconnect or isolate the machine from the energy source(s).
  4. Apply the lockout or tagout device(s) to the energy-isolating device(s).
  5. Release, restrain or otherwise render safe all potentially hazardous stored or residual energy.
  6. Verify the isolation and de-energization of the machine.

Examples of when lockout/tagout is used:

  • An electrical current or other operating hazard exists that could result in injury when servicing, repairing or inspecting electrical equipment.
  • Removing or bypassing a machine guard or other safety device.
  • Clearing a jam in equipment.

What do LO/TO locks and tags look like?