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Frequently Ask Question

General FAQ

Lockout/Tagout refers to the procedures established for Control of Hazardous Energy, as described by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under Federal Registry 29 CFR 1910.147.
Lockout/Tagout ensures employee safety during inspection, Maintenance, or service of equipment by controlling all energy flow to and from the equipment.
To achieve system Lockout, all energy sources are turned off or disconnected, and Stored Energy is released, restrained, or Dissipated. A lock or Lockout Device applied to each Energy Source prevents accidental startup. Tagout refers to application of warning tags to energy sources to ensure the equipment is not restarted until service has been completed. Tags may be used with locks for enhanced safety assurance. Where Lockout is not possible, tagout may be an alternative. Tagout alone is not as secure as is lockout.

A Lockout/Tagout program must include the following:

  • Plant- or company-wide safety policies.
  • Machine-specific lockout procedures.
  • Lock, key and tag control
  • Program review and certification.
  • Outside contractor rules and regulations.

Training for employees includes classroom and hands-on instruction. Authorized employees must demonstrate their proficiency in startup and shutdown procedures.

A copy of OSHA 29 CFR1910.147 should be readily available for reference.

All companies whose employees service or maintain equipment with potentially Hazardous Energy sources must have an OSHA-compliant Lockout/Tagout program.

Lockout/Tagout applies whenever the employee performs service or Maintenance on equipment/machinery that requires the employee to remove or bypass a guard or safety device or requires the employee to place any part of his/her body at the point of operation of the equipment/machinery.

Lockout/Tagout does not apply to cord- and plug-connected equipment where the cord and/or plug are under the control of the Maintenance employee throughout the repair; hot tap operations; or when shutdown of the system is impractical.

Typical activities where Lockout/Tagout would apply are cleaning, repairing, Servicing, setting up, adjusting, and unjamming prime movers, machines, and equipment.

To become compliant with the Lockout/Tagout standard, an employer must perform the following:

  • Classify employees as "affected" or "authorized"
  • Provide affected employee and authorized employee training
  • Develop equipment-specific written hazardous energy control procedures
  • Conduct an annual Lockout/Tagout inspection

Employees at risk of injury from equipment and machines vary depending on what they are doing. There are two categories of employee:

  • Authorized Employees or Persons - A qualified person who locks out or tags out specific machines or equipment in order to perform cleaning, repairing, servicing, setting up, and adjusting operations on that machine or equipment. An Affected Employee becomes an Authorized Employee when that employee's duties include performing cleaning, repairing, servicing, setting up, and adjusting operations covered under this section.
  • Affected Employees - An employee whose job requires them to operate or use a machine or equipment on which cleaning, repairing, servicing, setting up or adjusting operations are being performed under lockout or tagout, or whose job requires the employee to work in an area in which such activities are being performed under lockout or tagout.

An authorized employee is one who performs Lockout/Tagout in order to conduct service or Maintenance on equipment and machinery. An affected employee is one who works in or around the area in which service or Maintenance is being performed.
An Affected Employee is not permitted to perform the Lockout/Tagout procedure.

OSHA does not endorse or approve any service or product in order to negate conflict of interest. Under OSHA 29 CFR 1910.147 standard, the requirements for Lockout devices are not quantitative, making it difficult to provide the rationale on a decision one way or the other.