OSHA's regulation for the control of hazardous energy, 1910.147, is called the "Lockout/ Tagout" regulation. Specifically, this regulation covers "the servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment in which the unexpected reenergization or start up of the machine or equipment, or the unexpected release of stored energy could cause injury to employees." The regulation mandates a minimum performance level for controlling this hazardous energy.

The Lockout/Tagout standard requires employers to institute a program that accomplishes the following:

  • The program must have an administrator, be in writing and document machine/equipment specific procedures, and be updated at least annually with records kept for a minimum of five years.

  • Training of authorized, affected and other employees is required and must be documented, reviewed and updated whenever a change in the workplace processes or procedures occurs.

  • Lockout/tagout devices must be identifiable and meet specific criteria. (See descriptions below.)

  • Lockout procedures must specifically outline how the energy sources on a machine or piece of equipment are locked or tagged out.

  • There must be documentation of workplace activities that could expose employees to the uncontrolled release of hazardous energy.

    Potential penalties for failure to have a lockout/tagout program can be as much as $70,000 per willful citation. Serious and less-than-serious OSHA violations can cost $7,000 or less.

    Basic rules

    If you're looking to create or revise lockout/tagout procedures, here are some basic rules to follow:

    1) All energy sources that feed into a machine or piece of equipment must be identified and capable of being locked out. Energy sources include electrical, pneumatic, hydraulic, thermal, radiation, pressurized and rotating energy.

    2) All machinery/ equipment shall be locked out or tagged out to prevent accidental reenergization or inadvertent operation of the machinery or equipment.

    3) Lockout is mandatory when an employee is physically working in the point of operation or any danger zone, or when machine or equipment guards are removed.

    4) Only authorized employees are allowed to attach locks and hasps or other energy-isolating devices when the device is required to isolate an energy source.

    5) Unauthorized employees are prohibited from attempting to remove a lockout or tagout device from machinery or equipment that has been locked or tagged out.

    6) When it is necessary for work on equipment to continue into the next shift, the employee on the departing shift will remove his/her own lockout or tagout device in the presence of the oncoming shift employee. The oncoming shift employee will immediately insert his/her lockout or tagout device into the energy isolating device. All affected employees, i.e. machine operators, repairmen and the shift supervisor, will be briefed on the equipment's status by the authorized employees before shift change is completed.

    7) Lockout or tagout devices shall be issued to the employee by the company in sufficient quantities to allow the authorized employee to be able to lock out all energy sources on a machine or piece of equipment.

    8) Lockout/tagout devices shall be singularly identified as lockout or tagout devices and shall be the only devices used for controlling hazardous energy. Lockout or tagout devices shall not be used for any other purpose. The locks should contain the authorized employee's clock number, name, department or other identification as outlined in the lockout /tagout procedure.

    9) Lockout or tagout devices shall be durable and capable of withstanding the environment in which they are used for the maximum period of time that the exposure is expected to last and be resistant to tampering or removal. Unauthorized removal of a lockout device must result in disciplinary action.

    10) Tagout devices shall be constructed in such a manner that exposure to hostile conditions or wet locations will not cause the tag to deteriorate or become illegible.

    11) Tagout devices' means of attachment shall be substantial enough to resist 50-ft.-pounds of force in order to prevent inadvertent or accidental removal of the tag.

    12) Tagout devices shall warn employees of hazardous conditions, whether or not the machine or equipment is energized and shall include information similar to the following: DO NOT START, DO NOT OPEN, DO NOT CLOSE, DO NOT ENERGIZE, DO NOT OPERATE.

    13) Lockout locks must be used for lockout only.

    14) Lockout locks must be standardized within the facility and include all of the following criteria: uniform color; uniform shape or size; standardized print and format on tagout; one key per lock to provide exclusive control of the device.

    15) Tagout alone is not a substitution for the physical restraint provided by an energy isolation device, unless a specific procedure outlines the use of tagout and how it is effectively used as a substitute for a lockout device.

    Contact your area OSHA office or log onto www.OSHA.gov to obtain the complete regulatory requirements for a compliant lockout/tagout program.

    SIDEBAR: Know your LO/TO terms

    Affected employee. An employee trained in lockout/tagout whose job requires him/her to operate or use a machine or equipment on which servicing or maintenance is being performed under lockout or tagout, or whose job requires him/her to work in an area in which such servicing or maintenance is being performed.

    Authorized employee. A person who is specifically trained to lock out or tag out machines or equipment in order to perform servicing or maintenance on that machine or equipment.

    Capable of being locked out. A machine or piece of equipment must be capable of being locked out using a hasp or another means of isolating device or attachment where a lock can be affixed to the device or where the machine or equipment has a locking mechanism built into it.

    Energized. A machine or piece of equipment that is connected to an energy source or containing residual or stored energy that is not controlled or isolated.

    Energy isolating device. A mechanical device, such as a hasp, lock and tag, electrical plug cover, etc., that physically prevents the transmission or release of energy.

    Energy source. Any source of electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, rotating, stored or other energy.

    Lockout. The placement of a lockout device on an energy source in accordance with an established procedure that ensures the energy to the equipment being controlled cannot be reenergized until the lockout device is removed.

    Lockout device. A device that utilizes a positive means to hold an energy source in a safe position that prevents the reenergization of the machine or equipment.

    Servicing and/or maintenance. Workplace activities such as constructing, installing, setting up, adjusting, inspecting, modifying, and maintaining and/or servicing machines or equipment. These activities include lubrication, cleaning or unjamming of machines or equipment, making adjustments or tool changes, where the employee may be exposed to the unexpected reenergization or startup of the equipment or release of hazardous energy. Exception can be made if the activity is repetitive, minor and integral to the operation of production and it can be demonstrated that the process will not harm or endanger employees.

    Setting up. Any work performed to prepare a machine or equipment for its normal production operation.

    Tagout. The placement of a tagout device on an energy source in accordance with an established procedure, to indicate that the energy source is not physically restrained and the equipment being controlled may not be operated until the tagout device is removed.

    Tagout device. A prominent warning tag that is fastened to an energy source in accordance with an established procedure, to indicate that the energy source and the equipment being controlled may not be operated until the tagout device is removed.

    Zero mechanical state. Machinery or equipment in a mechanical state where every power source has been isolated, every source of stored or residual energy has been dissipated or blocked off, and the rotating energy or stored energy of the machine or equipment has been stopped and blocked causing all freely moving machine mechanisms or equipment parts to be secure from accidental startup/movement.