Lockout and tagout, also known as LOTO, is the OSHA standard for the control of hazardous energy. This exists to protect employees by addressing the necessary steps to disable machinery or equipment that could release hazardous energy or unexpectedly start. These hazardous energies, including electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or mechanical could seriously harm or kill workers if released during machinery work or maintenance.
Lockouts and tagouts put specific practices and procedures into place to isolate machinery energy hazards by de-energizing and locking out the ability to power on the equipment.
Failure to properly follow lockout tagout regulations are one of OSHA’s top 10 most frequent citations. Not only are there fines involved when you choose not to follow regulations but there are many dangerous situations you will create for your employees and anyone in your work environment.
Lockout/tagout procedures must be taken seriously. If procedures and requirements are not met employees can be gravely injured or killed by machinery and equipment. OSHA estimates that compliance with the lockout/tagout standards can prevent 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries every year.
Training on Proper Lockout and Tagout Procedures
Employees working on machinery are at high risk of bodily harm if someone removes lockout/tagout devices and reenergizes the equipment without their knowledge. It is extremely important that all employees respect lock out and tag out devices and that only the person who applied them may remove them.
According to OSHA’s guidelines, your lockout/tagout program must include energy control procedures, devices to lockout, inspections of lockout/tagout devices and mandated training for all employees. This training should be specific to each employee’s position and be relevant to their individual duties.
Proper training will give employees a better understanding of the types of energies that can cause danger and teach them how to implement procedures to ensure these energies are controlled during maintenance and service.
Training, and retraining regularly to maintain proficiency and protocol adherence, is crucial to the success of your Hazardous Energy Control Program.
Difference Between Lockout and Tagouts
Although the terms lockout and tagout have similar desired effects, the two devices are quite different. Lock out devices hold hazardous energy in isolation and prevent machines from being energized with physical restraints that cannot be removed without a key.
On the other end of the spectrum, tag out devices simply warn employees against reenergizing devices while it is being serviced. These are much easier to remove, and as a result, they do not provide the same level of protection as lockouts.
Lock out and tag out kits provide bundles of both that can be used for multiple procedures. They contain tags, padlocks, and all other devices to isolate energy release. These allow companies to manage all their operations from a centralized box, which makes implementing a lockout tagout program easier. Lockout programs can be tricky and having all the effective tools makes all the difference.
Standards for Lockout Tagout
The OSHA standards for The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout), Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 1910.147 and 1910.333 layout the requirements for disabling machinery during maintenance work and protecting workers from electrical circuits or equipment.
You must use a lockout program (or tagout program that provides protection levels equal to that achieved through lockout) whenever your employees engage in service or maintenance. This system normally involves taking dangerous equipment completely offline and removing its ability to energize by locking it into an “off” position, then tagging it to the individual who placed the lock and who is the only person able to remove it.
The basic requirements as stated in the standards are as follows:
- Employers must draft, implement, and enforce an energy control program and procedures.
- A lockout device, which temporarily disables machinery so that hazardous energy cannot be released, must be used if the machinery supports it. Otherwise, tagout devices, which are warnings to indicate that the machinery is under maintenance and cannot be energized until the tag is removed, can be used if the employee protection program provides equal protection to a lockout program.
- Lockout/Tagout devices must be protective, substantial, and authorized for the machinery.
- All-new, refurbished, or overhauled equipment must be capable of being locked out.
- Lockout/tagout devices must identify each user and only the employee who initiated the lockout can remove it.
- Effective training must be provided to all employees who work on, around, and with heavy machinery and equipment to ensure understanding of hazardous energy control procedures including their workplace’s energy control plan, their specific position’s role and duties within that plan, and OSHA requirements for lockout/tagout.
- Training must be repeated once a year
- Inspections must be performed of energy control procedures and initiatives.
Implementing a safe and effective lockout/tagout system is ultimately a task of the employer. It is the business’ responsibility to protect their employees from injury or death by providing them the tools, standards, procedures, and training to avoid hazardous workplace accidents.
Who Needs to Utilize Lockout Tagout PROCEDURES?
Lockout tagout procedures and training are necessary for all companies with equipment and facilities with hazardous energy. These are necessary both to meet OSHA guidelines and keep your employees safe.
Some examples of workplaces that would require both LOTO procedures and training include:
- A distribution center that utilizes equipment like forklifts and palletizers would need a lockout/tagout procedure set in place.
- A bakery food manufacturer would need a lockout/tagout procedure for maintenance on their industrial oven and conveyor belts.
- In the printing industry, if cleaning or maintenance duties on a press must be performed under machinery guards or in hazardous points.
When moving forward with building your lockout tagout procedures, keep in mind that not all employees will use the lockouts and tagouts. Only authorized personnel, meaning those trained on a company’s lockout tagout procedure can properly understand, apply, and follow procedure.
Regardless of whether or not they are considered authorized personnel and are using the lockout/tagouts, employees will still need to be trained. Any employees who operate the machines that will be serviced under lockout tagout or work in the area where lockout tagout is used will need to understand the purpose and seriousness of lockout tagout procedures.
Steps of Lockout Tagout
The general steps of lockout/tagout application require authorized personnel to perform a sequence of shutdown and inspection procedures. To initiate the LOTO and prepare for maintenance, you must:
Step 1: Inform the Workers
Before the machinery is shut down, all employees that work on or around the machine must be informed that the energy control procedures will be applied at a specific time. If anything changes, including the maintenance time or expected downtime, inform these employees.
Step 2: Power down the machine
Based on manufacturer guidance and your shutdown procedures, have an authorized employee turn off the machine.
Step 3: Isolate energy sources
Most equipment will have more than one source of energy. Any area of the machine that could be energized by electric, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or mechanical power must be shut down by powering down switches or shutting valves.
Step 4: Add the lock and tag
At all of the previously identified energy sources that can be used to re-energize the machine, apply locks and tags with identification of the authorized employee who placed them. Only the employee who placed them is allowed to remove these tags.
Step 5: Release any stored energy and prepare the area
Some machines can retain stored energy even after a shutdown. Look for hazards like spring tension or venting gases and release them appropriately. Moving parts must be safely secured to protect maintenance workers and remain stable throughout the cleaning or repairs.
Step 6: Verify that energy is isolated
Authorized personnel must now double-check and verify all previous steps were completed successfully.
Once the maintenance is complete, the LOTO must be removed. The following steps must be followed to remove the tags safely:
Step 1: Inform the workers
Communicate to all area workers that the machinery will be re-energized at a specific time. Ensure that all equipment brought in for repairs is removed before turning the machine back on and all maintenance personnel are accounted for.
Step 2: Remove the locks and tags
Authorized personnel will now remove the tags they placed earlier. Each tag can only be removed by the person who placed it.
Step 3: Re-energize the machinery
At the appointed time, re-energize the machinery.
Lockout/tagout procedures are not only important for OSHA compliance, they are vital to employee safety. To ensure your program is working as intended, annual inspections of lockout/tagout procedures are required by OSHA. While employees aren’t required to have annual refresher training, all employees must be well-trained and able to follow protocol at all times. If knowledge gaps are found, employees change work positions or if new machinery is added to the workplace, refresher training is required.
At National Safety Compliance, we offer a number of different ways to train your employees on lockout tagout safety, lockout tagout devices, and online training modules here on Online OSHA Training, as well as more traditional employer-led training programs available on DVD, USB, or Digital Access on OSHA-Safety-Training.net.