Basic Lockout/Tagout Process

Dear readers, we would today be discussing the basic process for LOTO safety. Bear in mind that these are ‘basic’ steps, common to all Lockout procedures, and you would need to be more specific, as per your situation. These steps ensure that you have all procedures in your safety program. Remember, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), requires most private sector employers to have one. The agency of the US Department of Labor also covers some employers of the public sector.

Not only is a LOTO program imperative for the safety of your employees, it also means savings, since any scope of injury is greatly reduced.

Step 1: Understand the problem, identify the energy source and the equipment to be locked out. Prepare for shut down.

Step 2: Once energy to the machinery/ equipment has been shut off, notify all workers who are affected. Ensure that the shutdown is not going to pose a hazard to anyone.

Step 3: Shutdown the equipment. Ask the worker who normally performs the shutdown to do so by using established procedure. If you are working on a customer site, ask them to shut off instead. All the moving parts should come to a stop.

Step 4: Isolate the machinery from every energy source. The main energy-isolating device, like a master power switch has to be deactivated, for each source of energy. It’s required to get this done by a qualified professional. They need to be wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), i.e. any helmets, goggles/eye protection, boots, etc. to protect them from injury.

Isolation techniques include opening electrical disconnects. One needs to stand to a side while opening electrical disconnects, to stay safe in the event of an electrical arc.

Step 5: Lockout/ tagout the machinery next by affixing personal, approved coloured locks to energy-isolating devices, for every energy source. Use tags. Master keys are not permitted for personal locks used for OSHA Safety Products. Each worker to have one key per lock. Unless you use a group lockbox, there should be one lock per worker, at every energy source. One is not permitted to lend or borrow either locks or keys.

Tags should always be accompanied by locks, unless the tags offer protection equivalent to a lock, or the machinery/ equipment can’t be locked out. Ensure that tags cannot be pulled off easily.

Step 6: Release any stored and residual energy.

Step 7: Try the equipment to verify that isolation of energy has taken place.