ARI Blog: Article

What is Lockout/Tagout?


One of the most frequent, but least understood questions on almost every insurance application for restoration contractors is in regards to lockout/tagout procedures for a company.

We thought we would use this post to define what a lockout/tagout procedure is and include some recommendations from OSHA on implementing a proper plan.

Lockout/tagout procedures are designed to address the practices and procedures used to disable machinery and equipment to prevent the release of hazardous energy while employees perform servicing and maintenance activities.

Employees servicing or maintaining machines or equipment may be exposed to serious physical harm or death if hazardous energy is not properly controlled. According to OSHA, proper lockout/tagout procedures prevent an estimated 50,000 injuries each year. Additionally, workers injured from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 for workdays to recover from the accident.

What do employees need to know?

Employees need to be trained to ensure that they know, understand, and follow the applicable provisions of the hazardous energy control procedures. The training must cover at least three areas:

  • Aspects of the employer’s energy control program

  • Elements of the energy control procedure relevant to the employee’s duties or assignment

  • The various requirements of the OSHA standards related to lockout/tagout.

What must employers do to protect employees?

Some of the most critical requirements from these standards are outlined below:

  • Develop, implement, and enforce an energy control program.

  • Use lockout devices for equipment that can be locked out. Tagout devices may be used in lieu of lockout devices only if the tagout program provides employee protection equivalent to that provided through a lockout program.

  • Ensure that new or overhauled equipment is capable of being locked out.

  • Develop, implement, and enforce an effective tagout program if machines or equipment are not capable of being locked out.

  • Develop, document, implement, and enforce energy control procedures.

  • Use only lockout/tagout devices authorized for the particular equipment or machinery and ensure that they are durable, standardized, and substantial.

  • Ensure that lockout/tagout devices identify the individual users.

  • Establish a policy that permits only the employee who applied a lockout/tagout device to remove it.

  • Inspect energy control procedures at least annually.

  • Provide effective training as mandated for all employees covered by the standard.

  • Comply with the additional energy control provisions in OSHA standards when machines or equipment must be tested or repositioned, when outside contractors work at the site, in group lockout situations, and during shift or personnel changes.

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