5-Minute Safety Talk: Lockout/Tagout – An Overview and Workplace Self Inspection

OSHA statistics show that six percent of all deaths in the workplace result from unexpected activation of a machine, or other piece of equipment during maintenance or other servicing.

OSHA developed the Lockout/Tagout regulations which require employers to develop procedures for isolating energy sources when servicing or maintaining equipment and machinery.

Lockout/Tagout is a warning and prevention system for unexpected startup and release of stored energy.

Who is Affected?

Lockout/Tagout involves three types of employees, with different levels of responsibility—authorized, affected and other.

  • Authorized—Employees who perform the servicing, maintenance and set-up of equipment or machinery and apply the locks and tags to the equipment.
  • Affected—Employees who operate or use the equipment or machines which are locked/tagged out when serviced, maintained or set-up, but cannot aid in Lockout/Tagout.
  • Other—Employees who are neither affected nor authorized employees.

Lockout Device Basics

  • Lockout devices must be durable and substantial.
  • The lockout device must identify the person who applied the lock.
  • Lockout devices should only be removed by the person who applied them.

Harmful Effects of the Release of Hazardous Energy

Injuries resulting from the failure to control hazardous energy during maintenance activities can be serious or fatal. Injuries may include electrocution, burns, crushing, laceration, amputations, and others.

Never attempt to remove a lock or tag.
Only the supervisor that applied the lock and tag may remove it.

Examples of not following the Lockout/Tagout procedures such as those below can cause significant hazards.

  • A steam valve is automatically turned on, burning workers who are repairing a downstream connection in the piping.
  • A jammed conveyor system suddenly releases, crushing a worker who is trying to clear the jam.
  • Internal wiring on a piece of factory equipment electrically shorts, shocking the employee who is repairing the equipment.