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Safety Management Insights

Everything you need to know about lockout tagout

Posted by Doug Shoemaker on Sep 18, 2019 10:29:56 PM


This article will cover everything you need to know about lockout tagout including how to build a rock-solid program and avoid incidents as well as OSHA fines. Whether you are very familiar with lockout tagout already or just learning about it, this article will have something for you! So, sit back, relax, and prepare to learn everything there is to know about lockout tagout!

What is lockout tagout?

The term “lockout tagout” refers specifically to procedures used to ensure that equipment is shut down and inoperable until maintenance or repair work is completed. They are used to keep employees safe from equipment or machinery that could injure or kill them if not managed correctly. For example: a pneumatic press coming down on you while you’re cleaning under it, or your boss boring you to death through another meeting when you could be out working.

Why do I need to worry about lockout tagout?

If lockout tagout practices are not observed employees can be seriously injured or killed by the machinery or equipment they are working on or around.

That seems like a good enough reason, right?

If you need more convincing- there are also some pretty hefty fines involved if you choose not to follow the regulations laid out by CFR 1910.147 (OSHA’s standard on the control of hazardous energy). In fact, this specific regulation is one of the top 10 most frequently cited by OSHA.

Learn more about the top 10 OSHA fines here.

(Ready to implement a lockout tagout program? Talk to a representative using the form at the bottom of the page.)

What are the OSHA lockout tagout requirements?

This will be the most exciting part of the article obviously.

The OSHA standard outlines the minimum requirements for controlling hazardous energy (pressure, gas, electricity, etc.). It requires employers to have a program in place to make sure employees lock out machines before servicing or maintaining them.

Employers mush establish the procedures for removing the energy source from machines and putting the appropriate devices on them to prevent unexpected startup or reenergization. It must also address any stored energy the machine may have.

They must also train the employees on the program they establish and inspect the procedures regularly. This means at the very least once a year.

If tags are going to be used instead of lock there must be additional levels of employee protection to prevent the accidental injury or death of employee.

How do I know if OSHA CFR 1910.147 applies to me?

If your company has employees who service or maintain machines that could potentially cause an injury then most likely the regulations surrounding lockout tagout apply to you.

Any time someone must construct, install, set up, adjust, inspect, modify, maintain, or service a machine or piece of equipment you must have a procedure in place to do it safely.

Even tasks like lubricating, cleaning, unjamming, or changing the attachments must follow the proper lockout procedure.

Essentially, if your people work in or on machines that could smash, cut, shock, trap, burn, or injure in any other way an employee you are better off having a lockout tagout program in place.

There are a few cases that it does not apply to, such as routine servicing that is required in normal production use of the machinery. To learn more, check out this link which goes into deeper detail, and is more boring.

CFR 1910.147 does not apply to agriculture, construction, and maritime industries or oil and gas well drilling and service. However, other standards do apply and don’t you want your employees to go home with all the limbs they showed up with?

What tools exist to make lockout tagout easier?

A lot of managers use old school methods for managing their lockout tagout programs. Things like paperwork, spreadsheets, and binders.

You could even get a little fancier and use something like SharePoint or DropBox to get rid of the binders.

Don’t get me wrong these methods work, but unless you plan on riding a dinosaur home you should probably consider software designed specifically to make them easy and meet the OSHA regulations.

Lockout tagout software like this is designed to make your procedures easy to build, manage, and access so you don’t have to worry about losing paperwork or sharing folders across the company! Plus having images built in to the procedures limits the chances that something will be missed.

What is a lockout tagout kit?

Lockout tagout kits are bundles of lockout tagout devices that can be used for multiple different lockout tagout procedures.  Usually they contain things like tags, padlocks, and other devices that help isolate potential energy release.

The benefit to these kits is that some operations can manage all their lockouts from one box.

How to build a lockout tagout program.

Lockout programs can be tricky, and an effective one makes all the difference!

Learn all about how to make a safe lockout tagout program here! (It even has examples!)

The steps are-

  1. Create detailed lockout tagout procedures. (if you need an example go to the link above)
  2. Make procedures easy to access.
  3. Notify affected employees.
  4. Follow the detailed procedures.
  5. Train on the importance of respecting locked and tagged machinery.
  6. Swap correctly during shift changes.
  7. Bring equipment back online.
  8. Review and audit procedures regularly.

After the lockout program is built make sure your employees understand how to use it correctly. Train them regularly and even use imagery like this infograph to remind employees of the correct way to complete them.

Is lockout tagout software right for me?

Truthfully this is a decision you need to make yourself, but here are some things to consider.

If you like sending employees home with all the pieces they showed up with, if you like avoiding OSHA fines, if you want your job to be easier, or if you like saving time and money- a lockout tagout software is probably exactly what you need.

Schedule a demo of it today and try it out yourself by clicking the button below!

Or learn more about the BasicSafe lockout tagout software here.


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