Controlling Hazardous Energy with Lockout/Tagout (LOTO)

Posted by
Lance Roux
on Jul 27, 2020


Maintaining and repairing industrial equipment can be dangerous if the proper safety precautions are not followed. OSHA has extensive protocols that are mandated for workplaces that maintain large equipment to keep technicians and operators safe. One of the guidelines for preventing injuries during equipment maintenance and repairs is Lockout/Tagout or LOTO, used for controlling hazardous energy to prevent injuries.

Dangers of Unexpected Startup or Released Stored Energy

Large equipment and machines require maintenance and repair, but there are dangers when performing service. If the machine suddenly starts up or mechanisms shift, workers can be seriously or fatally injured. Equipment can have stored energy, whether it be from electrical, chemical, thermal or hydraulic sources, that can be released during repairs and maintenance. Controlling hazardous energy with LOTO practices can prevent injuries from electrical shock, burns, mechanical movements, steam release and other dangers.

OSHA LOTO Standards

OSHA has created detailed guidelines for workplaces to follow to ensure proper Lockout/Tagout or LOTO standards are used. This includes requiring workplaces with equipment using hazardous energy to create a LOTO or energy release control program and train employees on their responsibilities in regard to LOTO. OSHA requires the following LOTO standards from workplaces to protect their employees from hazardous energy release injuries:

  • A documented energy release control program
  • Lockout or tagout devices used on dangerous equipment or machines
  • Ensure all equipment is lockout capable – if not, a tagout procedure must be in place
  • Policy in place to ensure LOTO is implemented and removed by the same employee
  • OSHA-approved training for all affected employees of LOTO practices
OSHA estimates that following LOTO standards can prevent an estimated 50,000 injuries and 120 fatalities each year in the workplace. Simply following the guidelines can have a significant impact on preventing unnecessary injuries, creating a safer, more productive environment.

Basic Lockout Steps

When a piece of equipment requires service, there are basic steps to ensure that the machine is in lockout status. This can include a checklist that employees follow and fill out to document the LOTO practices are completed. During a lockout procedure, some steps that may be required include:

  • Notifying other employees of machine lockout
  • Review of the particular LOTO procedures for a specific machine (energy type and hazards)
  • Shutdown equipment
  • Disconnect equipment from energy source -energy isolating devices should be deactivated
  • Lockout controls on energy isolating devices
  • Release any stored energy following instructions for the device
  • Check to ensure the energy source has been isolated
Once repairs and maintenance are performed, a lockout release method should be used to ensure the safe startup of all equipment. This includes inspecting equipment, checking that all controls are turned off, all employees are cleared from near the equipment and lockout devices are removed. Once the lockout release steps are performed, the energy isolating device can be re-energized, and equipment can be checked to ensure it is working properly.

LOTO practices are vital to many industries that use large machinery and equipment. Our team at SafetyPro Resources, LLC offer custom safety management, employee training and other safety services to implement OSHA-approved LOTO standards. To learn more about our Gulf Coast safety services, contact us online or call our team at (800) 941-0714.


Tags: Safety Tips, Workplace safety, LOTO, Hazardous Energy, lockout tagout

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