Lockout Tagout Devices

lockout tagout

Lockout Tagout Devices are primarily physical devices, such as a lock or tag which can be securely fastened to an energy-isolating device, in accordance with OSHA 29 CFR 1910.147. By installing such a lockout tagout device, it insures the machine or equipment may not be operated until the device is removed:

The most important tool for providing worker protection under OSHA 29 CFR 1910.147 is the lockout tagout device. A physical lock or tag prevents the unintended or unexpected or sudden startup of equipment, which can release hazardous levels of energy during servicing or maintenance.

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There are two types of lockout tagout devices: those capable of being locked and those that are not. The standard differentiates between the existence of these two conditions and the use of tagout when either condition exists.

When the energy-isolating device cannot be physically locked out, the employer must use tagout. Of course, the employer may choose to modify or replace the device to make it capable of being locked out. When using tagout, the employer must comply with all tagout-related provisions of the standard and, in addition to the normal training required for all employees, must train his or her employees in the following limitations of tags:

  • Tags are essentially warning devices affixed to energy-isolating devices and do not provide the physical restraint of a lock.
  • When a tag is attached to an isolating means, it is not to be removed except by the person who applied it, and it is never to be bypassed, ignored or otherwise defeated.
  • Tags must be legible and understandable by all employees.
  • Tags and their means of attachment must be made of materials that will withstand the environmental conditions encountered in the workplace.
  • Tags may evoke a false sense of security. They are only one part of an overall energy control program.
  • Tags must be securely attached to the energy-isolating devices so that they cannot be detached accidentally during use.

If the energy-isolating device is lockable, the employer must use locks unless he or she can demonstrate that the use of tags would provide protection at least as effective as locks and would ensure “full employee protection.”

Full employee protection includes complying with all tagout-related provisions plus implementing additional safety measures that can provide the level of safety equivalent to that obtained by using lockout. This might include removing and isolating a circuit element, blocking a controlling switch, opening an extra disconnecting device, or removing a valve handle to reduce the potential for any inadvertent energization while tags are attached.

Although OSHA acknowledges the existence of energy-isolating devices that cannot be locked out, the standard clearly states that whenever major replacement, repair, renovation or modification of machines or equipment is performed and whenever new machines or equipment are installed, the employer must ensure that the energy-isolating devices for such machines or equipment are lockable. Such modifications and new purchases are most effectively and efficiently made as part of the normal equipment replacement cycle. All newly purchased equipment must be lockable.

Requirements for Lockout/Tagout Devices
When attached to an energy-isolating device, both lockout and tagout devices used in accordance with the requirements of the standard help protect employees from hazardous energy. A lockout device provides protection by preventing the machine or equipment from becoming energized. A tagout device does so by identifying the energy-isolating device as a source of potential danger; it indicates that the energy-isolating device and the equipment being controlled may not be operated while the tagout device is in place. Whichever devices are used, they must be singularly identified, must be the only devices used for controlling hazardous energy, and must meet the following requirements:

  • Durability - lockout and tagout devices must withstand the environment to which they are exposed for the maximum duration of the expected exposure. Tagout devices must be constructed and printed so that they do not deteriorate or become illegible, especially when used in corrosive (acid and alkali chemicals) or wet environments.
  • Standardized - Both lockout and tagout devices must be standardized according to either color, shape or size. Tagout devices must also be standardized according to print and format.
  • Substantial - Lockout and tagout devices must be substantial enough to minimize early or accidental removal. Locks must be substantial to prevent removal except by excessive force of special tools such as bolt cutters or other metal cutting tools. Tag means of attachment must be nonreusable, attachable by hand, self-locking and nonreleasable, with a minimum unlocking strength of no less than 50 pounds. The device for attaching the tag also must have the general design and basic characteristics equivalent to a one-piece nylon cable tie that will withstand all environments and conditions.
  • Identifiable - Locks and tags must clearly identify the employee who applies them. Tags must also warn against hazardous conditions if the machine or equipment is energized and must include a legend such as the following: DO NOT START, DO NOT OPEN, DO NOT CLOSE, DO NOT ENERGIZE, DO NOT OPERATE.

Electrical workers who perform electrical maintenance work on electrical equipment and machinery are exposed to potential electrical hazardous injuries, such as arc flash burns, from the unexpected, accidental or negligent energization or startup of the electrical equipment or machinery, or release of stored-up electrical energy in the equipment (arc fault current). Lockout tagout solutions are designed to protect workers while improving workplace safety.

The OSHA and CSA Lockout Tagout LOTO standards require that employers adopt and implement practices and procedures for the proper and complete shut down of electrical equipment and machinery, isolate that equipment from its source of electricity, and prevent the release of potentially hazardous electricity while electrical service and/or maintenance work is being conducted. Be aware that these standards contain only the minimum performance requirements for lockout tagot procedures for establishing an effective lockout tagout program for the management of hazardous energy sources. Employers are encouraged to develop lockout tagout procedures that more than meet the minimum requirements. Being compliant with osha standards is one thing. Being electrically safe is another matter.

When a company uses Lockout tags, electrical staff should be trained so they understand the following limitations of tags:

  • Lockout Tags are really just warning devices and do not provide the physical equivalent restraint of a lock.
  • Lockout Tags must be visibally legible and understandable by all employees to read the tag.
  • When a lockout tag is attached to an isolating device or equipment like circuit breakers, it should not to be removed except by the authorized person who applied it. It is never to be bypassed, or ignored.
  • Lockout Tags and their attachments must be constructed of a material that will withstand harsh environmental workplace conditions.
  • Lockout Tags may provoke a false sense of security but they are only one part of an overall energy control strategy.
  • Lockout Tags must be securely attached to isolating devices so that they cannot be accidentally removed.


Here is a list of the various kinds of energy control equipment on the market today:

  • Photo Lockout Tags
  • Padlock Tags
  • Lockout Stations
  • Keyed Alike Lockout Kit
  • Multi-Purpose Lockout Kits
  • Self-Laminating Padlock Labels
  • NEC Arc Flash Labels On-a-roll
  • Master Lock Colored Bumper Padlock Sets
  • Color Coded Ball Valve Lockouts
  • Mini Wall Lock Box
  • Padlock & Lockout Control Cabinets
  • One Person Starter Lockout Kit
  • One Person Electrical Lockout Kits
  • Combination Lockout Toolbox
  • Combination Lockout Duffel
  • Lockout Cabinets
  • Gate Valve Lockout Stations
  • Universal Breaker Lockout
  • Wall mount Group Lock Boxes
  • Wall mount Storage/Group Lock Boxes
  • Electrical Lockout Tool box
  • Combined Lockout & Lock Box Station
  • Portable Group Lock Boxes
  • Portable Storage/Group Lock Boxes
  • Breaker Lockout
  • Breaker Lockout Sampler Pouch
  • Padlock Control Cabinets



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