Safety 101: Lockout/Tagout

Energy sources on worksites, including electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, and other sources in machines can pose a hazard to workers. If there is an unexpected startup or release of stored energy, such as a steam valve that automatically turns on or a jammed conveyor system releasing, it can be highly dangerous.

In response, OSHA has developed a comprehensive curriculum around proper lockout/tagout procedures intended to keep workers safe from these types of releases. Learn more about controlling hazardous energy:

The Importance of Lockout/Tagout

Lockout/tagout is extremely important for the nearly 3 million workers who service equipment and face the risk of hazardous energy. Proper compliance with lockout/tagout prevents an estimated 50,000 injuries per year, as well as 120 fatalities. All sites should have established energy control programs set in place and provide effective training for their employees. If you feel unclear about the lockout/tagout protocol on your site, contact your supervisor.

OSHA’s Standard

The OSHA lockout/tagout standard for Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), part 1910.147 addresses the practices and procedures necessary to disable machinery or equipment in order to prevent the release of hazardous energy while employees may be servicing it. Additionally, part 1910.33 sets forth requirements on protecting employees working on electric circuits and equipment.

Designing an Energy Control Plan

It is the employer’s responsibility to design, implement, and enforce an energy control program that aligns with the needs of each particular workplace, depending on the types of machines and equipment that are being used. Workers should use lockout devices for equipment that can be locked out, while tagout devices may be used in lieu of lockout devices – but only if the tagout program provides employee protection equivalent to that provided through a lockout program.