The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to establish a program and use procedures for affixing appropriate lockout or tagout devices to energy isolating devices, and to otherwise disable machines or equipment to prevent unexpected energization, start up, or release of stored energy in order to prevent injury to workers.

OSHA requires that, in general, before service or maintenance is performed on machinery or equipment, the machinery or equipment must be turned off and disconnected from the energy source, and the energy-isolating device must be either locked or tagged out. OSHA estimates that adherence to these requirements can eliminate nearly 2 percent of all workplace deaths in establishments affected by this rule and can have a significant impact on worker safety and health in the U.S.

The following questions can help supervisors and workers evaluate their Lockout/Tagout program to ensure the exposure to these hazards is reduced to a minimum.

  • Is all machinery or equipment capable of movement, required to be de-energized or disengaged and locked-out during cleaning, servicing, adjusting, or setting up operations?
  • Where the power disconnecting means for equipment does not also disconnect the electrical control circuit, are the appropriate electrical enclosures identified?
  • Where the power disconnecting means for equipment does not also disconnect the electrical control circuit, is a means provided to ensure the control circuit can also be disconnected and locked-out?
  • Is the locking-out of the control circuit, in lieu of locking-out the main power disconnect, prohibited?
  • Are all equipment control valve handles provided with a means for locking-out?
  • Do lock-out procedures require that stored energy (mechanical, hydraulic, air, etc.) be released or blocked before equipment is locked-out for repairs?
  • Are appropriate workers provided with individually keyed personal safety locks?
  • Are workers required to keep personal control of their key(s) while they have safety locks in use?
  • Is it required that only the worker exposed to the hazard place or remove the safety lock?
  • Are workers required to check the safety of the lock-out by attempting, after making sure no one is exposed, a startup?
  • Are workers instructed to always push the control circuit stop button immediately after checking the safety of the lock-out?
  • Are the workers who are working on locked-out equipment able to be identified by their locks or accompanying tags?
  • Are a sufficient number of accident prevention signs or tags and safety padlocks provided for any reasonably foreseeable repair emergency?
  • When machine operations, configuration, or size requires the operator to leave his or her control station to install tools or perform other operations, and that part of the machine could move if accidentally activated, are such elements required to be separately locked or blocked out?
  • In the event that equipment or lines cannot be shut down, and locked-out and tagged, is a safe job procedure established and rigidly followed?

COPYRIGHT ©2005, ISO Services Properties, Inc.