A Lockout Tagout Procedure Explained

Lockout Tagout Procedure

A Lockout Tagout Procedure involves Equipment Shutdown, Energy Isolation, LOTO Application, Controlling Stored Energy, and Verification.

A good procedure requires that lockout tagout procedures be designed, recorded and implemented to control possibly dangerous energy whenever electrical workers engage in work that is governed by the appropriate standard.

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Lockout tagout is governed in the United States by OSHA Reg. 29 CFR 1910.147 and in Canada by CSA Z460. These two Workplace Electrical Safety Standards govern the standards by which Lockout Tagout LOTO programs are executed in all businesses in North America. Local electrical occupational health and safety authorities have jurisdiction to administer, regulate, inspect a company's energy control program to ensure electrical worker safety. LOTO programs are developed to notify affected employees of a potential source of energy and to protect workers from a form of hazardous energy and machine guarding of moving parts.

A company's written Lockout Tagout Procedure must identify the information that the authorized employees must know to control hazardous energy during servicing or maintenance. If the equipment information is common to other machines or equipment or if other protective means of equipment grouping is in place, then a single lockout tagout procedure for all the equipment should be okay. If there are other conditions—such as multiple energy sources, different connecting means or a particular sequence that must be followed to shut down the machine or equipment—then the employer must develop separate energy control procedures to protect employees.

Energy control procedures must outline the scope, purpose, authorization, rules and techniques that will be used to control hazardous energy sources as well as the means that will be used to enforce compliance. At a minimum, they should include, but not be limited to, the following elements:

A statement on how the procedures will be used:

  • The procedural steps needed to shut down, isolate, block and secure machines or equipment;
  • The steps designating the safe placement, removal and transfer of lockout/tagout devices and who has the responsibility for them;
  • The specific requirements for testing machines or equipment to determine and verify the effectiveness of locks, tags
  • and other energy control measures; and
  • The employer or an authorized employee must notify affected employees before lockout or tagout devices are
  • applied and after they are removed from the machine or equipment.

The procedures must include the following steps:

  1. preparing for shutdown
  2. shutting down the machine or equipment
  3. isolating the machine or equipment from the energy source(s)
  4. applying the lockout or tagout device(s) to the energy-isolating device(s)
  5. safely releasing all potentially hazardous stored or residual energy, and
  6. verifying the isolation of the machine or equipment prior to the start of servicing or maintenance work.

In addition, before lockout or tagout devices are removed and energy is restored to the machines or equipment, certain steps must be taken to reenergize equipment after servicing is completed, including: (1) ensuring that machines or equipment components are operationally intact; (2) ensuring that all employees are safely positioned or removed from equipment; and (3) ensuring that lockout or tagout devices are removed from each energy-isolating device by the employee who applied the device.

The following Lockout Tagout Procedure is a good example:

Step 1 - Preparations Before Lockout Tagout
The first step is to prepare to shut down the electrical equipment or machinery.

Before shutting down any electrical equipment or machinery, the authorized electrical employee(s) must be sure they know:

  • The types and magnitudes of energy
  • Any potential hazards that could result from that energy
  • The exact methods to effectively control the hazardous energy
  • They must pay very close attention to other energies such as gravity, electrical, high pressure, etc., that could be stored or reaccumulated after shut-down of the electrical equipment.
  • They must notify all affected electrical employees prior to any shutdown so those workers can remove themselves from the work area and/or any other area that might be potentially hazardous. 


Step 2 - Equipment Shutdown
Machinery and electrical equipment must be deenergized or turned off or shut down using the exact process your company has established for the machinery or equipment.

Step 3 - Energy Isolation
All energy isolating devices must be located and operated to completely de-energize and isolate the equipment from residual energy.

Step 4 - Lockout or Tagout Application
Lockout vs Tagout:

  • “Lockout” is a term for the placement of a physical lockout device (like a padlock) on an energy isolating device, in accordance with established OSHA standards, making sure that the energy isolating device and the electrical equipment being controlled absolutely cannot be physically operated until the lockout device is physically removed.
  • “Tagout” is a term used for the placement of a tagout device on an energy isolating device, in accordance with established lockout tagout program. This indicates that the electrical energy isolating device and the electrical equipment being controlled may not be operated until the tagout device is physically removed.
  • Must warn against hazardous conditions if the machine or equipment is energized and must include a message such as Do Not Start, Do Not
  • Close, Do Not Energize, Do Not Operate.

Lockout Devices

  • A “lockout device” is a device that uses a positive means such as a lock to hold an energy isolating device in a safe position to prevent the energizing of a machine or piece of equipment
  • Only authorized employees can affix lockout devices
  • Lockout devices must be able to hold energy isolation devices in a “safe” or “off” position

Step 5 - Controlling Stored Energy
Immediately after applying lockout or tagout devices, the authorized employee must ensure that all potentially dangerous stored or residual electrical energy is:

  • relieved
  • disconnected
  • restrained

If there is a possibility of stored electrical energy reaccumulating to a hazardous level, continue to verify isolation until the servicing or maintenance is completed or until the possibility of such accumulation no longer exists.

Step 6 - VERIFY
Prior to commencing work on machinery or piece of electrical equipment that has been locked or tagged out, the authorized employee must make certain that the machine or piece of equipment has been isolated and deenergized.


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