Lockout/tagout safety

July 1, 2010

The OSHA lockout/tagout standard outlines practices and procedures required to prevent the flow of dangerous energy while employees are servicing equipment. This includes all sources of energy, including electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical and thermal. Disabling and labeling equipment while it is being serviced can prevent serious injuries and even deaths from occurring.

According to OSHA, craft workers, machine operators and laborers are most likely to be servicing equipment and therefore are most at risk for injuries from uncontrolled energy. OSHA estimates compliance with the lockout/tagout standard would prevent 120 fatalities and 500,000 injuries on an annual basis.

The average number of days away from work to recover from an injury stemming from hazardous energy is 24, making adherence to the standard beneficial not only for your employees’ heath and safety, but also for your organization’s bottom line.

Employers are responsible for compliance with the OSHA standard. Requirements of the standard include:

  • Develop, implement and enforce an energy control program and procedures.
  • Develop, implement and enforce an effective tagout program if locking out equipment is not possible.
  • Use lockout devices when possible. Tagout devices may only be used in lieu of lockout devices if they offer the employee the same amount of protection provided from a lockout program.
  • Ensure lockout/tagout devices identify individual users and establish a policy that permits only the employee who applied such a device to remove it.
  • Ensure new or overhauled equipment can be locked out.
  • Use only lockout/tagout devices authorized for the specific piece of equipment, and ensure they are durable, standardized and substantial.
  • Inspect equipment and lockout/tagout devices at least once a year.
  • Comply with OSHA’s standard when machines must be moved or tested, when contractors are working on-site, in group lockout situations, and during shift or personnel changes.
  • Provide adequate and effective training for all employees.