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March 2, 2017

By: Matt Luman


“It’s a busy shop” one worker says to another. “We’re on such a time-crunch to get equipment serviced and back on the road that often there are two to three mechanics working on each piece of equipment.”

This scenario is all too common across the industry. When this happens, confusion can take over.  Separate components might be simultaneously assessed while employees are actively working on equipment.  One employee might come try to check something when another employee had just stepped away. Without controlling the potential release of hazardous energy, serious injury or death can result.

Implementing a properly developed hazardous energy control program, or Lockout/Tagout program, ensures that risk of energization can be controlled.

Key Pieces

29 CRF 1910.147 applies to general industry workers who perform servicing or maintenance of machines or equipment and are exposed to unexpected energization, startup, or release of hazardous energy. There are some exceptions for what activities or operations are covered. For that information, refer to the scope limits outlined in 29 CFR 1910.147(a).

An effective lockout/tagout (LOTO) program needs to follow these steps:

  1. Notify and Check: Machinery should be checked to ensure it is not being used currently before power is cut. All affected employees should be notified that a lockout is required.
  2. Turn Off: Disconnect or isolate the energy source(s) from the equipment.
  3. Place Lock: Locks are placed on the equipment by each authorized employee that is to perform work. The program needs to provide locks that are unique and identifiable back to the employee performing work. Each worker should only have one key to the lock.
  4. Drain Energy: Residual energy in whatever form should be drained from the equipment. Considering equipment under pressure, the energy must be released or blocked.
  5. Double Check: All energy sources are verified to be locked out by testing.
  6. Work: Work is performed.
  7. Re-energize: Check the area to ensure no one is exposed to the equipment. Equipment guards, if any, should be back in place. Remove the lock(s). Employees are notified and equipment is re-energized.

Definitions that apply to the standard:


  • Authorized: An employee who performs the lockout or tagout on machines or equipment in order to service or do maintenance.
  • Affected: An employee required to use machines or equipment on which servicing is done under the standard or who performs other work in an area where such servicing is being performed.
  • Other Employees: All the employees who are or may be in the area where the energy control procedures may be used.


  • Energized: Machines and equipment is considered energized if connected to an energy source or contains some form or stored energy.
  • Energy-isolating device: Mechanical device that prevents transmission or release of energy such as a circuit breaker or disconnect switch.
  • Energy source: Energy in the form of either electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other source.


  • Lockout: Placement of an energy-isolating device that prevents operation of equipment until the device is removed.
  • Lockout Device: Any device that prevents energizing of machinery or equipment through positive means. These can include locks, blank flanges, or bolted slip blinds.
  • Tagout: Placement of a tagout device that indicates equipment may not be operated until the tagout device is removed.
  • Tagout Device: Any warning device, displayed prominently, that can be securely fastened and indicate that the machine or equipment it is attached to may not be operated until the tagout is removed.

Employer Responsibilities

The lockout/tagout standard outlines employer responsibility to ensure the employees are protected from hazardous energy sources during service and maintenance activities. The standard allows for flexibility in plan development, in order to create a unique employer plan that reflects the hazards at the site. Employers must develop their own plan with the requirements:

  • Develop a plan for energy control based on the unique circumstances of the workplace in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.147.
  • Implement, document, and enforce the energy control program.
  • Review the program at least annually.
  • Provide training for employees covered by the standard.

Employers should also keep in mind:

  • Any equipment that can be locked out should use lockout devices. Tagout devices can be used if the tagout program provides equivalent protection.
  • New or overhauled equipment should be capable of being locked out.
  • Lockout/tagout devices should be authorized for specific equipment or machinery and be durable, standardized, and substantial.
  • Lockout/tagout devices should identify individual users. Policy should reflect employee removal by the individual who applied the device, except in certain circumstances.
  • Additional situations that require compliance include machine testing or repositioning, when outside contractors are at the site, group lockout, and shift or personnel changes.

Compliance Made Easy

Compliance to the standard doesn’t have to be difficult. Whether it’s a LOTO online course, or OSHA Outreach training that covers LOTO and many other standards, the choice is clear – has the training you need. Our courses are online, interactive, and available 24/7. Check out all the training we offer and get started today!

About the author:
Matt Luman is the EHS Product Marketing Manager at He is an OSHA-authorized Outreach Trainer for General Industry and Construction. Prior to coming on board with the team, Matt worked for many years in the Oil and Gas Industry, spanning numerous sectors. He’s done everything he could in the industry, from washing trucks to developing EHS management systems. As EHS Product Marketing Manager, he is focused on creating lifelong industry learners.