Best Practices for Lockout/Tagout Procedures

August 22, 2018

It is not uncommon for workplace equipment, machinery, and vehicles to require maintenance or repair. Employers have a duty to protect workers from hazards associated with such tasks by implementing and enforcing a lockout/tagout program. The purpose of a lockout/tagout program is to protect employees from exposure to hazards such as electrical shock or machine entanglement by ensuring that equipment, machinery, and vehicles are properly shut off during maintenance and repair.

OSHA Standards

Employees who perform service or maintenance on equipment, machinery, or vehicles may suffer serious injury or death from exposure to hazardous energy if they do not follow proper procedures. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workers injured by such exposure miss an average of 24 days of work.

OSHA directly addresses the control of hazardous energies, including electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, and thermal energies, and sets forth standards for employers, as well as requirements for workers who perform lockout/tagout procedures. It is estimated that 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries can be prevented each year by complying with OSHA’s lockout/tagout standard, which establishes the employer’s responsibility to protect employees by:

  • Developing and enforcing a lockout/tagout program
  • Using the appropriate lockout/tagout devices for the particular equipment, machinery, or vehicle
  • Ensuring that all lockout/tagout devices are durable, standardized, and substantial
  • Identifying individual users of lockout/tagout devices
  • Reviewing the program and its effectiveness at least once a year
  • Providing effective training for employees
  • Complying with any additional applicable OSHA provisions

Employer Duties

Because workplaces vary in terms of the equipment, machinery, and vehicles that are used, OSHA allows employers to create a lockout/tagout program that is best suited to their needs. Employers must consistently monitor employee compliance with best practices and the effectiveness of the program. They should also train employees to understand and follow the program by teaching them the aspects of the program, the elements of the lockout/tagout procedure that pertains to their job, and the relevant OSHA requirements.

Employers should use the appropriate lockout/tagout devices and de-energize the equipment, machinery, or vehicle before allowing maintenance or service to be performed. Some lockout/tagout best practices include:

  • Correctly identifying equipment, the appropriate procedure for shutting it down or restarting it, and any energy sources that are connected to it
  • Notifying employees about upcoming service or maintenance
  • Writing down the shutdown process in detail, so that each employee can understand the exact procedure
  • Marking locks and tags with the names of employers who are authorized to work on them
  • Requiring each employee working on the equipment to attach their own lock or tag at each isolation point and not allowing the equipment to be restarted until each lock or tag has been removed
  • Disconnecting all primary energy sources, including electricity, steam, water, gas, and compressed air
  • Identifying any secondary sources of remaining energy and how they will be relieved
  • Verifying the equipment is indeed locked out once all primary and secondary sources of energy are disconnected
  • Notifying employees once service or maintenance is complete
  • Ensuring that equipment is functioning properly

Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Help Workers Injured During Lockout/Tagout Procedures

Failure to comply with the lockout/tagout standard is consistently one of the most frequently cited OSHA violations. If you were injured during an improper or inadequate lockout/tagout procedure at work, contact a Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. We represent workers in Berks CountyBucks CountyChester CountyDelaware CountyMontgomery CountyPhiladelphia County, and throughout Pennsylvania. For a free consultation, call us at 888-PITT-LAW or complete our online contact form.

Our team also provides skilled representation to those residing in and around AbingtonAmblerArdmoreBala CynwydBensalemClifton HeightsCrum LynneDarbyDowningtownDoylestownDrexel HillEssingtonFolcroftGlenoldenHaverfordHavertownHolmesKutztownLansdowneMediaMerion StationMortonNarberthNorristownNorwoodPhiladelphiaProspect ParkQuakertownReadingRoxboroughSharon HillUpper DarbyWest Chester, and Wynnewood.