OSHA requires control of hazardous energy (also known as Lockout/Tagout) when maintaining or servicing electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic and other energy sources. When used correctly, Lockout/Tagout can reduce electrical injuries in environments like construction sites where electrical hazards are common. To learn more about OSHA regulations, click here.
What is Lockout/Tagout, and how do I do it?
Lockout/Tagout is a way of ensuring that a machine is isolated from its power source using lock boxes, padlocks and other locking mechanisms. In addition, warning labels may be used on machinery to let workers know it is not safe to operate. Here are four easy ways to ensure safety on a job site:
Develop Written Procedures for Energy Control: Determining who is responsible for developing LOTO procedures depends on the individual job site. In corporate or industrial environments, there is usually a safety manager who is responsible. On construction sites, the general contractor, construction manager or electrical contractor would be the responsible party. After responsibility has been established, a jobsite specific written plan should be developed. Policies should be easy to understand, implement, and update. A hazard analysis should be performed for each piece of equipment/machinery that is used, stored, serviced or maintained.
Identify and Tag All Energy To Be Controlled: Identify all energy points. Permanent labels or tags made of durable materials should be placed on all potential hazards including machines, breakers, wires, etc. Include pertinent information such as last date of service, magnitude and purpose of the control. It is also helpful to cross-reference the corresponding step number in the written LOTO procedure. All equipment and machinery that needs to be locked out should have a written shutdown and start up procedures.
Train Staff: OSHA requires that only the employee(s) who apply a lock out/tag out device can remove it. It is imperative that employees know the OSHA regulations and company-specific policies. DVD's, booklets, handouts and posters are available to aid with this. However, make sure that your training is OSHA-approved. Initial training must be provided for all affected and authorized associates, and repeated annually. Additional retraining should take place whenever there is a change in equipment or personnel. Supervisors must document that all employees have received the necessary training, and a written test should be administered.
Proper Equipment: Employees need access to proper hardware to make a LOTO program successful. Different hazards will require different equipment. Using the correct lockout hasps, lock boxes, padlocks, circuit locks, and valve locks is essential to employee safety. Construction sites are more difficult to control than industrial environments, and therefor more dangerous. Heavy duty padlocks should be used to lock all equipment when not in use. Only locks provided by facilities management and approved for lockout/tagout should be used. Each lock should be keyed differently, and specific to each employee.
Definitions of Commonly Used Lock Out/Tag Out Terms
Lock Out: The act of placing a lock which prevents a machine or equipment from being turned on.
Lock Out Device: A device such as a hasp, padlock or lockbox that can be secured to a machine in order to prevent power transmission.
Tag Out: The placement of a tag on machinery or equipment that identifies the device is shut down for maintenance or repair.
Tag Out Device: A semi-permanent tag, label or note that is fastened to machinery or equipment to indicate the device should not be energized.
Affected Associate: An employee who works in an area where maintenance or service of machinery is performed. This person implements lockout/tagout measures for his or her own safety. An affected associate may also be an authorized associate.
Authorized Associate: The employee who services or maintains equipment or machinery. An affected associate becomes an authorized associate whenever he or she performs service or maintenance.
Energized: Equipment or machinery is energized when connected to an energy source like an outlet, or contain residual or stored energy (a battery).
Zero Energy State: All sources of energy are controlled or dissipated.
Energy Isolating Device: A mechanical device that physically prevents the transmission or release of energy