Understanding Lockout/Tagout

February 15, 2021 | SECURA Risk Management

Serious accidents have happened when someone thought a piece of equipment or machinery was turned off or secured. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed the Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) Standard 1910.147, which requires that employees establish proper lockout/tagout procedures and train their employees to follow those procedures. 

What is an Authorized Employee?

An Authorized Employee is a person who locks out or tags out machines or equipment in order to perform servicing or maintenance on that machine or equipment. An Affected Employee becomes an Authorized Employee when that employee's duties include performing servicing or maintenance covered under this section. 

What is an Affected Employee?

An Affected Employee is an employee whose job requires him or her to operate or use a machine or equipment on which servicing or maintenance is being performed under lockout or tagout, or whose job requires him or her to work in an area in which such servicing or maintenance is being performed. 

When working with machinery or equipment, the following steps should be taken in order to safely de-energize the equipment: 

  • Notify all affected employees that this equipment will be shut down for maintenance.
  • Shut down the equipment by using normal stopping procedures (parking, turning off the ignition, etc.) 
  • "Isolate" all the equipment's stored energy sources.
  • Lockout and/or tag out the energy isolating devices with appropriate locks, tags, etc. (Isolating devices include the key ignition or any other "start-up" device). 
  • Release or restrain any potentially stored energy by grounding or blocking. Be aware that equipment marked "high voltage" can store lethal energy, even when disconnected from the power source. 
  • Test the equipment to ensure that it is inoperable prior to beginning maintenance or repair work. 

Why is LOTO important?

The unexpected start-up of equipment and machines during service or maintenance work can result in serious injury or even death. Proper LOTO practices prevent an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries per year. 

View a PDF version