Lockout Tagout Programs - Energy Control Explained

Lockout Tagout Programs

A lockout tagout program requires employers establish an energy control program that includes several important components: (1) a well-documented energy-control procedure, (2) an employee LOTO training program, and (3) repeated visual and documentary inspections of the implementation of the program. Lockout tagout standards in the United States and Canada require that employers establish a loto program is in place to insure that machines and electrical equipment are properly physically isolated and inoperative before any worker performs servicing or maintenance. This prevents the unexpected energization, startup or release of stored energy could occur and cause injury or death. In other words, the purpose of the loto  program is to ensure that the equipment is isolated from its energy source and rendered inoperative prior to servicing or maintenance. Employers have the flexibility to develop programs and procedures that meet the needs of their particular workplace and the particular types of machines and equipment being maintained or serviced.

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LOTO programs govern electrical worker practices and procedures and are designed to safeguard employees from the unexpected energization of electrical equipment or machinery, so there is no release of hazardous energy during electrical servicing and maintenance activities. A lockout tagout loto program is developed according to OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.147 as an energy control program with procedures with the intention of protecting workers from injury or death from chemical thermal or other sources of uncontrolled energy.

OSHA estimates that about three million workers work on or maintain electrical equipment and it is these workers who face the greatest risk of injury if a proper LOTO program is not implemented and followed. To accomplish this, strict adherance with the OSHA lockout tagout loto standard can prevent an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 electrical injuries each year. Electrical workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation. Twenty per cent of the fatalities that occurcan be attributed to inadequate LOTO programs.

LOTO programs are addressed in specific standards for the general industry, marine terminals, longshoring, and the construction industry.

Lockout Procedures Govern Lockout Devices and Associated Hardware
Each lockout device, and tag shall indicate the identity of the authorized individual who applied the device(s), and may also include the date and the reason for the lockout. The information shall remain legible for the maximum period of time that exposure is expected.

Recognized Lockout Processes
Designed to cover maintenance of a very basic nature, a LOTO Program specifies that individual Lockout require each and every worker involved in activities requiring lockout to be knowledgeable of the hazards associated with the work and the isolation required to eliminate those hazards and to apply their own worker locks to the devices needed for their protection. They must each then ensure before work begins that they verify the machine, equipment or process is de-energized.

Lockout Tagout Programs Govern Group Lockout
Specific procedures shall be utilized during shift or personnel changes to ensure the continuity of Lockout or protection.

Provision for the orderly transfer of lockout or device protection between off-going and oncoming authorized individuals, to minimize exposure to hazards from the inadvertent energization or start-up of the machine, equipment or process, or the release of stored energy

A procedure shall be established by a LOTO Program for the safe removal of a lockout device and information tag inadvertently left on an energy- isolating device by an authorized person who has either departed the workplace or is not available to remove them. In order to remove lockout devices and tags safely, the site and or facility shall have an approved procedure in place that identifies an individual or individuals who are authorized to remove abandoned locks.

CSA Z460 Requirements
Allows provisions for operation tasks (non maintenance repair tasks. “Lockout is recognized as the primary method of Hazardous Energy Control”.

Other Hazardous Energy Control Methods
Traditional Lockout to a full zero energy state is not practicable in all situations. When lockout affects tasks that are integral to the production process by design, or traditional lockout prohibits the completion of specific tasks, other hazardous energy control methods shall be used.

Appropriate Tasks for Other Control Methods
To be considered integral to production, designed tasks shall exhibit most of the following characteristics:

  • Of short duration
  • Relatively minor in nature
  • Occurring frequently during the shift or production day
  • Usually performed by operators or others functioning as operators
  • Represent predetermined cyclical activities
  • Minimally interrupt the operation of the production process
  • Exist even when optimal operating levels are achieved
  • Require task-specific personnel training

Selection of Other Control Methods

The user shall select other control methods that are designed so that adequate risk reduction has been achieved. The hazard risk assessment shall take into consideration the fact that it is possible that existing safeguards provided with the machine, equipment, or process will need to be removed or modified to perform a given task. The Other Control Method selected shall have detailed procedures developed and documented for the control of hazardous energy.

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

LOTO Equipment:

  • Make certain that all machinery or electrical equipment is properly put back together
  • Inspect machinery or electrical equipment to ensure nonessential items have been removed


  • Ensure that all electrical workers are safely positioned outside hazardous areas
  • Notify affected employees that LOTO device has been removed and that energy is going to be reapplied Removing lockout/tagout devices
  • Only the authorized employee who applied the LOTO device may remove that device
  • Exception - When the authorized employee is not available to remove it, the device 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 minimum, the procedures must include:
    • Verification that the authorized employee who applied the device is not at the facility
    • Making all reasonable efforts to contact him/her to inform them that their LOTO device has been removed
    • Ensuring that they are aware of this upon returning to work
    • If the authorized employee is not available, who is authorized to remove the LOTO device?

Group Lockout or Tagout:

  • When electrical maintenance is performed by a team of workers, they must enact a LOTO program procedure that gives the employees a level of protection equivalent to that provided by a personal LOTO device
  • Group LOTO devices must be used in accordance with specific procedures and must include the following requirements, at a minimum:
    • Primary responsibility is directed at the authorized supervisor for a certain number of workers who are working under the protection of a group lockout or tagout device program
    • Provision for the authorized supervisor to monitor and inspect the exposure status of individual electrical workers with regard to the lockout or tagout of the machine or electrical 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

Training Program
General requirements:

  • LOTO 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 LOTO 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





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