Controlling hazardous energy sources is vitally important for those responsible for
servicing or maintaining machines or equipment. It should be obvious that certain
industrial equipment can be dangerous when used, but it can also present hazards
when not in operation. Serious physical harm or death could occur if the hazardous
energy is not properly controlled. As long as energy sources such as electricity,
hydraulic, pneumatic, mechanical, chemical, thermal, etc. are attached to a piece of
equipment or a machine…a potential hazard exists.
Lockout/Tagout simply refers to the series of procedures or specific practices designed
to safeguard employees from unexpected startup of the equipment or the release of
residual/stored energy within the device. So why utilize lockout/tagout?
It is estimated that there are 3 million workers who perform equipment maintenance
and these individuals face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not
appropriately executed. About 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year are
prevented from compliance with the lockout/tagout standard (29 CFR 1910.147).
Workers who are injured from exposure to hazardous energy lost an average of 24
workdays for recovery, and most were credited for having insufficient hazardous energy
control procedures, specifically lockout/tagout procedures.
When developing a lockout/tagout program, it is critical to be as specific as possible,
because vague language could lead to a potentially dangerous situation. The primary
aspect should focus on equipment isolating instructions. Spell out exactly what to do for
shutting down and restarting the equipment. Involve the operators and craftsmen as
well since they will have to most knowledge of the equipment’s features.
Once all proper procedures have been determined, all individuals need to be trained,
made aware of the hazards and the steps that have been taken to protect them. An
effective lockout/tagout program will have a set of instructions that will commonly
Preparation for Lockout/Tagout – Make sure to locate and identify all isolating devices
to be certain which switches, valves, or other energy isolating devices apply to the
equipment to be locked out and tagged. More than one energy source may be involved.
Lockout/Tagout Sequence - Each maintenance person working on equipment will have
his own lock and the only key to that lock for locking out equipment. The master key to
lockout locks is available only to maintenance supervisor and safety director. The
following steps will be taken to safely secure a listed machine for servicing and/or repair.
Lockout/Tagout Authorized Release Sequence - Utilize the following procedures for
returning a machine to service.
Conduct periodic audits of the program from time to time to ensure that the procedures
up-to-date, as your program/procedures need to reflect any changes to the system. A
well visualized and monitored lockout/tagout program will help keep both the employees
safe and ensure proper shutdowns and restarts that will protect the equipment.