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Published March 20, 2018

It is estimated that over 100 lives are lost every year because machines were not properly locked out.

Lock-Out/Tag-Out is the process by which a machine’s energy source is isolated when it is being repaired, serviced, or set-up. This process keeps employees from inadvertently starting a machine that is not ready to be operated. Machines in the process of repair, set-up, updates or servicing are extremely dangerous if they are powered up. The threat of flying debris, parts or electrocution is great under these conditions. The proper education and implementation of Lock-Out Tag-Out programs will save lives and reduce injuries. In the year 1989 OSHA set new regulations for this training.


The concept of the Lock-Out Tag-Out programs is simple. Make sure that the machines energy source is neutralized.

For electrical machines, the electricity to the machine is cut off. This is done by the process of locks and tags.

The locks keep the machine from having electricity restored and the tags let us know that a machine is getting serviced and should not be powered on.

Most people don’t realize how often the situation calls for LOTO. For instance, repairing circuits, cleaning, and oiling, clearing jams and set-up all call for LOTO. Every company first needs to set up a plan. The plan includes employee training and LOTO procedures. Only those employees trained on the procedures should be allowed to Lockout the machines.

The energy sources in a workplace typically come in five forms: electricity, hydraulic (water), pneumatic, chemical or thermal. The energy from these sources comes in two forms – active and stored. Both are dangerous, and both need to be neutralized in a LOTO situation. With Hydraulic and Pneumatic energy, the lines need to be bled to get rid of the stored energy. In all cases the energy source is cut-off.

The Lockout device can be padlocks, chains, valve clamps, wedges, key blocks or pins. The Tag-out device is informational only and should NEVER be used a substitute for a Lockout device. These devices should be designated as LOTO and not be used for any other purpose. Both the LO and TO devices need to be durable, identifiable, and difficult to remove.

Only authorized, trained employees can use these devices. These employees need to be completely aware of all aspects of electricity in the machines that handle. All employees who work around or on these machines also need to be trained. They should know facility procedures on energy control, be informed when lockout tag-out programs is taking place and be prohibited from working on machines that are under LOTO.

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