What is Lockout Tagout?

By R.W. Hurst, Editor

What is Lockout Tagout

Lockout Tagout (LOTO) is a safety procedure used in industrial and maintenance settings to ensure that machines are properly shut off and not able to be started up again before maintenance or repair work is completed.

29 CFR 1910.147 is the occupational safety and health administration OSHA standard for controlling hazardous energy lockout tagout.

The LOTO procedure involves a series of steps designed to prevent the unexpected start-up or release of hazardous energy from machinery or a piece of equipment. This is done by locking out the power source and applying an energy-isolating device in a safe manner that identifies the person or team responsible for performing maintenance or repair work.

The steps of the LOTO procedure typically include the following:

  1. Preparation: Identifying the equipment, energy source, and type of energy involved.
  2. Shutdown: Turn off the equipment using the normal shutdown procedures.
  3. Isolation: Isolating the energy source and ensuring it cannot be restarted.
  4. Lockout: Locking out hazardous energy sources using a physical lockout device that prevents the equipment from being restarted.
  5. Tagout: Placing a tag on the equipment that identifies the person or team performing the maintenance or repair work.
  6. Verification: Testing the equipment to ensure it is no longer energized and cannot be restarted.
  7. Start-up: Removing the lock and tag when the maintenance or repair work is completed and restarting the equipment.

The LOTO procedure helps prevent accidents and injuries by ensuring that equipment cannot be started while maintenance or repair work is performed. This helps to protect workers and prevent damage to equipment, which can be costly to repair or replace.


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What are the 3 purposes of lockout and tagout?

The three primary purposes of lockout and tagout (LOTO) are:

  1. To protect affected employees from hazardous energy: The primary purpose of LOTO is to protect employees from the release of hazardous energy, such as electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, or thermal energy, which could cause injury or death. In addition, LOTO is used to ensure that energy sources are de-energized and locked out so that employees are not exposed to unexpected release of energy while working on the equipment.

  2. To prevent damage to equipment: LOTO is also used to prevent damage to equipment during maintenance or servicing activities. When equipment is not properly locked out and tagged out, there is a risk that equipment may be started or energized during maintenance, which can cause damage to the equipment or the tooling.

  3. To comply with regulatory requirements: LOTO is required by law in many countries as a safety standard to protect employees. Employers are required to establish and implement procedures for the control of hazardous energy sources and to provide training to employees who work with or near equipment that requires LOTO procedures. Compliance with LOTO regulations helps ensure a safe work environment for authorized employees and can also prevent costly fines and legal penalties for the employer.


What is the difference between lockout and tagout?

Lockout and tagout are two related but distinct procedures used to control hazardous energy in industrial and maintenance settings. The main difference between lockout and tagout is the physical method used to prevent the release of stored energy.

Lockout involves physically locking the energy isolation device to prevent the release of energy. This typically involves using a padlock or a similar device attached to the device controlling the energy source. This lock prevents the device from being turned on or energized until the lock is removed.

Tagout involves attaching a warning tag or label to the energy isolation device to alert workers that it should not be operated. The tag is usually bright-coloured and clearly marked, and it identifies the person responsible for attaching the tag and the reason why the equipment has been tagged out. However, a tag alone is not enough to prevent the release of energy, as it does not provide a physical barrier to prevent the device from being operated.

In many cases, both lockout and tagout are used together to ensure that hazardous energy is controlled. In addition, by using both procedures together, workers are given clear visual cues that the equipment is inoperable and cannot be turned on until the tag and lock are removed. This helps prevent accidents and injuries and provides additional protection for workers performing maintenance or repair work on equipment.