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Staying safe with hazardous energy: Using the Lockout Tagout procedure

Image showing lighblub and large bins with hazardous substances

Your workplace includes powerful equipment that contains hazardous energy. Hazardous energy can take many forms – electrical, pressurized air, mechanical, chemical and more. 

Image of a stop light, cleaning supplies, tool kit and robot arm

If a power switch is accidentally engaged or there is a release of stored energy when a worker is close to or inside the machine during cleaning, unjamming or maintenance, it can be catastrophic.

But by knowing about the right safety procedures, you can stay safe. 

What is Lockout Tagout?

You may be used to using equipment at work, but maybe you weren’t trained on a safety procedure called Lockout Tagout.

Images of a play button, steering wheel and control gears

Lockout Tagout ensures all forms of energy are controlled to prevent the equipment from being started, moved, or accidentally engaged. 

Image of a lock with a caution lockout tag

The lock is a physical lock that holds the equipment in an ‘OFF’ position. The tag provides visual caution and information about why the machine is locked out and who locked it out.

The 7 key steps of Lockout Tagout

Image of a battery and power source buttons

1. Prepare for shutdown: Identify all the sources of hazardous energy that power the equipment that need to be controlled. Notify those who may be impacted by its shutdown.

Image of a checklist and a machine control panel

2. Shutdown equipment: Turn off the machine using the normal shutdown procedure.

Image of an on/off switch and heavy operating machine

3. Isolate equipment: Ensure the equipment is completely isolated from any of its potential energy sources so that energy can’t be released and cause harm. An energy-isolating device is a mechanical device that prevents the transmission or release of energy. 

Image of a switch, valves and electrical disconnects

Energy-isolating devices include things like switches, valves, and electrical disconnects.  Shut all valves and turn off the electrical disconnects.

Image pipes, pressure guage and machine control wheel

4. Control stored energy: An authorized person must make sure all stored hazardous energy has been blocked, bled, released and restrained.

Image of a lock with a caution lockout tag

5. Apply Lockout device: A physical lock must be placed on each energy-isolating device by each authorized employee entering the equipment. 

Image of a start button and a pressure guage

6. Verify isolation: Push start buttons or activate controls to ensure the system is completely de-energized. Verify control of all energy sources including stored energy. If the machine turns on or fails verification for any reason stop the work and notify your supervisor immediately.

Image of lock with a caution tag, warning electrical shock sign, caution tape, large operating machine and a group of workers having a meeting

7. Release from Lockout: Before you release it from Lockout, make sure the equipment is intact, all the safety guards are reinstalled, and all tools have been removed. Make sure all people are cleared from the area and the machine itself and have been told that energy is about to be restored.

Image of a machine lever and on/off switch

Remove all the locks and turn on the energy sources.

A group of warehouse workers standing together

If you have any questions or see anything unsafe, talk to your supervisor. By staying alert and aware, you can go home safe at the end of the day. 

Watch the video version of Staying safe with hazardous energy: Using the Lockout Tagout procedure.