If someone has had to repair machinery or do electrical work on your jobsite, you might already be familiar with some lockout/tagout standards. For example, if you needed an HVAC unit onsite repaired, you may have seen the corresponding breaker locked and tagged to keep the repair specialist safe while performing the repair.
Lockout Versus Tagout
These two methods both serve as a preventative measures for controlling the release of hazardous energy. If it’s possible to lock a piece of equipment into its off position, that’s what should be done. A lock creates a strong physical barrier to re-energizing the machinery.
Tagging warns workers by using a tag to indicate that equipment is de-energized. Tagout can be used instead of lockout if the protection is equal to the protection the lockout program would provide. For either device, remember you can never remove another parties’ lockout or tagout device.
Faulty equipment, missing grounds, exposed wire, and melted receptacles are all reasons to tag the equipment and take it out of service. The standards for disarming equipment and machinery, also known as lockout/tagout, is represented in Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 1910.147.
LOTO devices must be:
- Able to withstand their environment
- Substantial enough that they cannot be improperly removed without considerable force
- Labeled with the name of the individual who installed the device
- Standardized on the jobsite so they are easily recognizable
- Only used to control energy, they cannot be used for other purposes
Understanding basic lockout/tagout standards can help keep your workers safe on the jobsite. It’s also important to have an emergency response plan and teach workers not to come in contact with others if they are trapped in the shock cycle.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.