Lockout-Tagout, Special Topics in Safety Management

6 Most Common Lockout/Tagout Mistakes

Any powered equipment is potentially dangerous—even if it’s supposed to be shut down. Many needless accidents occur when somebody turns on a machine that’s supposed to be locked out.

Lockout/tagout accidents are not only needless, but serious. They result not in small cuts or scratches, but often cause amputations, serious fractures, or death. Any energy source—electrical, mechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic, or gas—can be deadly if not controlled.

No lockout system will be effective if it is undertaken in a hit-or-miss fashion. You must be absolutely sure that your workers are absolutely sure about lockout/tagout procedures, whether they’re performing the lockout, whether they’re affected by it, or whether they’re just working in the area.

Make No Mistake

Here are six common lockout/tagout mistakes employees make. Could any of your workers be making any of these?

Mistake 1: “This job will only take a few minutes. I don’t need to use a lock—I’ll just shut down the equipment controls.” No! Never under any circumstance is this permissible!

Mistake 2: A worker pulls the switch and correctly locks it out. Then another workers places his lock through the first worker’s lock. The first guy finishes first removes his lock, leaving the other guy’s lock lying on the ground near the switch. Wrong! Now the second worker has no protection. Make sure that multiple lockout procedures are always followed when more than one person is servicing the equipment.


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Mistake 3: A worker performing a lockout is afraid she’s going to lose the key, so she leaves it in the lock. Big mistake! Now anyone could come along and remove the lock not realizing it’s protecting someone’s life. 

Mistake 4: “Joe, could you take my lock, shut off the machinery, and lock it out while I get my tools together?” Stop! Don’t let employees depend on the other guy! Each worker must perform the shutoff and lockout him or herself.

Mistake 5: An employee locked out the control circuit and thought that was good enough. Wrong! The main disconnect or switch must be locked out too. Even one drop of water or a few particles of dust can cause a machine to operate without anyone pressing any start buttons.

Mistake 6: Everything is correctly locked out and a machine repairperson is ready to go to work. He’s only got an hour to finish the job, so he jumps right in. Stop! Before he does any repairs, he must take a few moments to test the controls to make sure they are definitely inoperative.

Make sure any worker performing lockout/tagout in your facility is properly trained, evaluated, and following your written lockout procedures. You simply can’t afford mistakes with lockout/tagout.


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Training Prevents Mistakes

Effective employee training prevents mistakes, accidents, and injuries. And BLR’s 7-Minute Safety Trainer has cost-effective, mistake-preventing, easy-to-implement training in lockout/tagout as well as all the other essential safety topics you need to train your employees.

Savvy safety professionals like you have been relying on the BLR® 7-Minute Safety Trainer for their training needs for years now.

This essential training resource allows you to provide concise, memorable training easily and effectively in just a few minutes. Materials are ready-to-use, and each session supplies a detailed trainer’s outline as well as a handout, quiz, and quiz answers to get your points across quickly—and cost-effectively.

All told, this “trainer’s bible” contains 50 prewritten meetings covering almost every aspect of safety you’d want or need to train on, in a format designed to be taught in as little as 7 minutes. Major topics include:

—Confined spaces
—Electrical safety
—Fire safety and emergency response
—HazCom
—Machine guarding and lockout/tagout
—Material handling
—PPE use and care
—Housekeeping/slips, trips, and falls
—and dozens more

Just make as many copies as you need of the included handouts and quizzes, and you’re ready to train.

Equally important is that the program ships new meetings every quarter to respond to new and changed regulations. This service is included in the program price, which averages just over $1 a working day. In fact, this is one of BLR’s most popular safety programs.

If you’d like to personally evaluate 7-Minute Safety Trainer and see how it can build safety awareness, we’ll be happy to send it to you for 30 days on a no-cost, no-obligation trial basis. Just let us know, and we’ll arrange it.

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