Lockout Tagout was designed to address the safety of employees working on hazardous equipment whenever they have to bypass the safeguards or place their body parts in dangerous zones on equipment.

It is not enough to lockout the main switch when you are servicing an electric-powered machine. It would be best if you also described exactly what you are working on and how long so that nobody powers on the main switch as you work.

What Does Lockout Tagout Mean?

Lockout Tagout simply means to lock people out of an energy source and label (tag) the lock. The lock (like a padlock) isolates the energy source (e.g., the main switch). The tag warns and gives more information about the maintenance activity, e.g., the kind of maintenance, who’s doing it, and for how long.

Only the person who places a lockout device, e.g., a lockout padlock, can and should remove the lockout device.

It is not just a safety precaution; it is also a US labor law requirement. The US Department of Labor demands that employers comply with the applicable OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standards to protect their employees’ lives.

Lockout Tagout outlines the minimum performance standards to prevent any chance that someone would power on an energy service when someone else is servicing or doing other maintenance work on the equipment.

It’s not only about placing Lockout Tagout (LOTO) devices (like safety hasps) on energy isolating devices (like a disconnect switch), but it also includes training employees to identify and use the Lockout Tagout devices appropriately.

Lockout Tagout (LOTO) procedure

A LOTO procedure keeps you safe from lockout Tagout hazards, e.g., someone starting a machine while any part of your body is on the machine.

Here is a general LOTO procedure you can use, even when you are servicing electrical equipment at home. If you are working as a group, skip to the Group LOTO procedure below.

  1. Identify every one of the energy sources for your equipment. Clear everyone and everything that is not involved in the servicing. Gather your tools (including personal protective equipment).
  2. Shut down the equipment by de-energizing the energy sources, e.g., disconnect from power, flip the circuit breaker, etc.
  3. Lockout the main switch (e.g., using a lockout padlock) and place a tag to prevent anyone from starting the isolated energy source as you work. Put your key in your pocket.
  4. Confirm that the energy source is, in fact, disabled and will not restart without your knowledge, e.g., use a voltmeter to test the absence of electricity in the circuit.
  5. Service your equipment. After you are done, clear out the working area, and you can re-energize the power source when everyone is safe.

Group Lockout Tagout (LOTO) Procedure

Every organization with a potential lockout Tagout hazard needs an energy control program that outlines the group LOTO procedure when more than one employee will work on a Lockout Tagout hazard.

Even then, the affected employees need to know the LOTO procedure by heart to prevent lockout Tagout hazards. You are responsible for your safety, but you could be in danger until you hold the key to safety in your pockets.

According to the Group Lockout Tagout procedures, everybody needs to hold the key to the group lockout device. This can be attained using group lockout devices like the Aluma-Tag Hasps, which double down as a resilient group lockout hasp and tag.

If you used different locks and tags for each energy source, you could place all the keys in a group lockbox. Then all the employees working on the equipment will each place a lock on the group lockbox. That way, nobody can access the lockout device’s keys until everyone removes their lock.

LOTO (Lockout Tagout) Devices

Different lockout devices serve different purposes. Some common lockout devices include:

  • Lockout padlocks for single users.
  • Lockout Tagout tags to attach to the lockout devices.
  • Valve lockout devices, e.g., ball valves.
  • Lockout hasps for more than one user. When working in tough environments, Aluma-Tag Hasps with anodized aluminum plates are very resilient.
  • Group lockout boxes.
  • Clamp-on-Breaker Lockout Tagout devices.

Your safety is your responsibility. Whenever you are working on equipment that could harm you when powered without your knowledge, lock, and tag the energy isolation device. And most importantly, have the key in your sight at all times.