Lockout-Tagout, Special Topics in Safety Management

Lockout/Tagout: The Devil’s in the Details


Compliance with OSHA’s Control of Hazardous Energy standard involves a variety of issues other than the basic lockout/tagout procedures. It’s a comprehensive standard, and you need to comprehend all its requirements.


Because you’re probably already familiar with the basic lockout/tagout procedures, let’s skip ahead to some lesser-known facts about lockout/tagout compliance.


(NOTE: If you’re looking for a complete review of lockout/tagout OSHA-required procedures, you can find it all conveniently in one place on our sister website, Safety.BLR.com.)


Requirements for Locks and Tags


OSHA’s lockout/tagout standard (29 CFR 1910.147) says that locks must have a key or combination and be:



  • Durable enough to stand up to the work area’s heat, cold, humidity, or corrosiveness
  • Strong enough so that they can be removed only with heavy force or tools like bolt cutters
  • Standardized by color, shape, and/or size throughout the facility
  • Identified with the name of the authorized employees who install and remove them

Tags must be placed at or near the power source where they’re easy to see, and must be:



  • Unique and used only for this purpose
  • Durable enough for area conditions and the amount of time they are used
  • Strong enough so they can’t be accidentally detached or torn
  • Identified with the name of the authorized employees who install and remove them
  • Legible, even if exposed to dirty, damp, or corrosive conditions
  • Standardized throughout the facility in color, shape, or size, print, and format
  • Attached with nylon cable ties or other means that can be attached by hand, are self-locking, can’t be removed with less than 50 pounds of strength, and can’t be reused



Need to do lockout/tagout training? Have little time to do it? Students train themselves with BLR’s Interactive CD: Lockout/Tagout computer-based program. Try it at no cost! Learn more.


Shift Changes


When maintenance or repairs begin on one shift and end on another, employees must coordinate efforts to ensure a safe transfer of lockout/tagout protection. Your energy control program must spell out the steps for shift changes. It may, for example, require workers completing their shift to wait to remove their locks until workers on the next shift arrive and perform their own lockout.


Group Lockout


When groups perform service or maintenance, group members must follow individual lockout/tagout steps. In addition:



  • One authorized employee is responsible for coordinating the work so that everyone is protected.
  • Each authorized employee places and removes his or her own lockout and/or tagout device on the group lockbox or other lockout/tagout mechanism.

Lockout with Contractors


Require contractors to explain their lockout/tagout procedures so you can confirm that they’re complying with OSHA standards and that their procedures are compatible with yours. Make sure that both your own employees and independent contractors coordinate activities and maintain communication. Make sure a qualified person from your organization is on hand to work with the contractor’s supervisor to monitor the process and ensure the safety of all workers.




Try Interactive CD Course: Lockout/Tagout with your own employees at no cost or risk. Read more.


So, how best to make sure your employees comply with these and other lockout/tagout rules? How best to ensure that you satisfy OSHA’s extensive lockout/tagout training requirements? Our editors recommend the BLR program, Interactive CD Course: Lockout/Tagout.


This powerful, self-paced computer-based training (CBT) course uses emotional appeal—one of the most powerful educational motivators known—to drive the message home, which helps make it, in one customer’s words, “unforgettable.”


For example, at one point the course asks workers to consider how they would feel if they inadvertently reenergized equipment and caused the death of a co-worker. It notes such emotionally painful consequences as:



  • Talking with the police
  • Talking to co-workers just after the accident
  • Telling your family members what happened
  • Going to the victim’s memorial service and seeing the victim’s family members
  • Going to therapy or counseling

Those are the kinds of resonating lessons that employees don’t soon forget. The program also presents these other advantages:


–Practical CD format. Employees train at their own pace, with no need for a fast Internet connection.
–Effective training on all OSHA-specified mandatory concepts. Proper entry permit procedures, rescue techniques, and required PPE, among others, are covered.
–Individual CBT training. No need to actively supervise the learning, freeing your time for other activities.


Because computer-based-training has to be experienced to be appreciated, we’ve arranged for you to try the program in your own workplace, with your own people, at no cost for up to 30 days before deciding whether to purchase. If it’s not for you, we’ll pay for its return.


Just click here, and we’ll be happy to set things up.


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