Lockout Tagout OSHA Explained

Lockout Tagout OSHA


Lockout Tagout OSHA test Standards are in place to prevent the injury and/or death of electrical workers. It's a well documented fact that most electrical accidents are caused by electrical workers accidentally or negligently contacting live electrical circuits and/or energized electrical equipment.

Indeed, most electrical accident are caused by the failure to shut down or de-energize equipment so that someone can properly perform electrical maintenance. The best and safest way to work on electrical equipment is to de-energize it. And if all employees used a strict lockout/tagout procedure, many electrical workers would still be alive today.

The Control of Hazardous Energy Source Standard (29 CFR 1910.147) is more commonly referred to as a Lockout Tagout OSHA Standard. This standard is an OSHA program designed to prevent the unexpected start-up, or energizing, of machinery and equipment during service and maintenance operations that could cause injury to employees. It is also designed to prevent the release of stored energy in the form of arc flash and arc blast that can and often does cause serious injury to electrical workers. The US electrical industry has been mandated to comply with the Lockout Tagout OSHA Standard since January 3, 1990.

The Lockout Tagout OSHA Standard applies to electrical workers:
1. If the electrical worker or employee is required to remove or bypass a guard or other electrical safety device during service and maintenance of electrical equipment or machinery.
2. If there is an associated hazard zone that exists while a machine operating cycle is in place.
3. If the electrical worker is required to place any body part into an area of the machinery or equipment where work is actually being performed upon the material being processed.

Written Lockout Tagout OSHA Program
In order to comply with a written Lockout Tagout OSHA Program, a company must prepare a written work procedures document that includes the scope, purpose, authorization, rules, and techniques to be used to control hazardous energy. Training must also be provided to all employees who are affected by the lockout tagout procedures. The written Lockout Tagout OSHA program must include the following items:

  • A specific statement about the intended use of the program
  • Specific steps for shutting down, isolating, and blocking machinery and equipment in order to control hazardous energy
  • Specific procedures for the placement and removal of lockout/tagout devices as well as the method to identify an individual’s locks or tags

Release from Lockout or Tagout
The authorized employee must follow the procedures below prior to removing lockout/tagout devices and restoring energy.


  • Make sure all employees are safely positioned outside dangerous areas
  • Notify affected employees that lockout or tagout devices have been removed and that energy is going to be reapplied

    Removing lockout/tagout devices
    • Only the authorized electrical worker or supervisor or employee who inititally applied the lockout or tagout device to the circuit, may remove that lockout tagout device
    • Exception - When the specified electrical worker or supervisor or employee is not available to remove the lockout tagout device, it can be removed under the direction of the employer
    • Specific procedures and training must be developed, documented, and placed in your energy control plan

    At a very minimum condition, the lockout tagout OSHA procedures must include:

    • A strict verification that the authorized electrical worker or supervisor or employee who applied the device is not at the facility
    • Every and all reasonable effort has been made to contact him/her to inform them that their lockout or tagout device has been legally removed
    • Ensure that they are aware of this upon returning to work If the authorized electrical worker or supervisor or employee is not available, who is authorized to remove the lockout or tagout device?

    Group Lockout or Tagout
    When servicing and/or electrical maintenance is performed by an electrical group (crew, craft, department, etc.), it is dictated that they must utilize a procedure which affords the employees a defined level of personal electrical protection which is equivalent to that provided by a personal protective lockout or tagout device.

    Group lockout or tagout devices must be used in accordance with specific procedure and must include the following requirements, at a minimum:

    • Primary responsibility is vested in an authorized employee for a set number of employees working under the protection of a group lockout or tagout device (e.g. an operations lock)
    • Provision for the authorized employee to monitor the exposure status of individual workers with regard to the lockout or tagout of the machine or equipment
    • When more than one group is involved, assignment of overall jobassociated lockout or tagout control responsibility to an authorized employee designated to coordinate all affected groups and ensure continuity of protection
    • Each authorized employee must affix a personal lockout or tagout device to the group lockout device (group lockbox or comparable mechanism) when he/she begins work, and must remove the device when he/she stops working on the machine or equipment being serviced or maintained


    Lockout/Tagout Training
    Training must ensure that the purpose and function of your energy control plan are understood and that employees gain the needed knowledge and skills to safely apply, use, and remove hazardous energy controls. Minimum training must include:

    • Authorized employees must be able to recognize:
    • hazardous energy sources
    • types and magnitudes of energy in the workplace
    • methods and means necessary to isolate and control the energy Affected employees must be instructed on the:
    • purpose and use of your energy control procedures Other employees must be instructed about:
    • the energy control procedure in general
    • prohibitions relating to attempts to restart/reenergize equipment


    Lockout Tagout
    That is the rationale behind lockout tagout. All sources of electricity that have the potential to be unintentionally activated, started or released must be identified and monitored. This is accomplished by installing locks (lockout) or tags (tagout) on electrical circuits to keep electricity from being accidentally activated when it shouldn’t be. OSHA lockout tagout standards mandate: “The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout Tagout). “This standard covers the servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment in which the unexpected energization or start up of the machines or equipment, or release of stored energy could cause injury to employees”.

    In general, this Lockout Tagout standard requires that all electrical energy sources for equipment be turned off, isolated (disconnected), and physically locked out. Bleeding, relieving, or blocking other stored and residual energy must also be done to achieve zero energy state. The last important function before equipment service can begin is to verify all energy has been deenergized and/or isolated. - Read More Here: Lockout Tagout Safety

    OSHA states that all employers must have an Energy Control Program, and that "the employer shall establish a program consisting of energy control procedures, employee training, and periodic inspections to ensure that before any employee performs any servicing or maintenance on a machine or equipment where the unexpected energizing, start up or release of stored energy could occur and cause injury, the machine or equipment shall be isolated from the energy source, and rendered inoperative." - Read More Here: Lockout Tagout OSHA

    Energy Control Plan
    A company's hazardous energy control plan must specifically outline the scope, purpose, authorization, rules, and techniques to be utilized for the control of hazardous energy. The plan must also include a company's methods to enforce compliance. At a minimum, the following steps must be taken:

    1. A specific statement of the intended use of your procedures
    2. Specific procedures to shut down, isolate, block and secure machines or equipment
    3. Specific procedures to place, remove and transfer lockout tagout devices
    4. Assigning responsibility for lockout tagout devices
    5. Requirements and procedures to test machines and machinery to determine and verify effective lockout tagout devices, and other energy control measures.

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