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Lockout/tagout (LOTO) is a procedure developed to protect employees and other workers from the unexpected startup of machinery under maintenance or repair. A successful LOTO program ensures the faulty machinery is entirely shut down, has been tested for residual energy, and will not be started up again until the proper time. Lockout procedures are put into place to prevent serious and fatal injuries from hazardous energy.

While these programs are required by OSHA, the internal LOTO programs vary by company. For this reason, many companies could benefit from auditing and improving their procedures. Follow these tips if you’re interested in designing an effective lockout/tagout program.

Select the Correct Lockout/Tagout Devices

Every workplace is unique, which means the LOTO devices needed will vary from one company to the next. You should create a complete list of the machines and electrical components that will need lockout/tagout devices. This list will often include industrial machines, circuit breakers, switches, push buttons, plugs, and valves. Once you have this list, you will be able to get the specific lockout devices required for your company. 

Now that you have the locks in hand, you need to keep a system for organizing them and making them easily accessible to employees. A lockout station is a great way to keep devices organized. Make sure you sort the locks by size and color, so workers know which lock will serve their needs.

Clearly Mark All Isolation Points

As part of a successful lockout/tagout program, you should visibly identify all isolation points, or the places where machines are removed from energy sources. The tags or labels used should be permanent and highly durable.

Design a Detailed Training Program

A LOTO program is completely useless if employees do not understand or know their specific roles. Therefore, you will need to design an effective training program that details which tasks need to be completed during a lockout/tagout process and which worker should complete those tasks.

Each employee should be assigned a role as an authorized worker, affected worker, or other. Authorized employees are involved in the process of locking out equipment or machinery. Affected employees are those whose work is affected by the lockout. Other employees are individuals who work near the equipment or machinery but do not touch it.

While OSHA requires lockout/tagout training once a year, it’s best to revisit training more than this to ensure safety is maintained throughout the year. Make sure you document when and where the training was conducted, as well as who was involved and what was covered, so that your company can easily identify any gaps in training.

Document All Procedures

Documenting all lockout/tagout procedures ensures all employees know what they should do in the event a machine or piece of equipment needs to be locked out. These written procedures should detail exactly how a machine should be shut down and the hazardous energy isolated. It should also cover how to place and remove LOTO devices.

Once completed, these procedures should be posted next to the relevant piece of equipment or machinery. It may be beneficial to include images or graphics of the lockout steps with the written instructions.

Review Your Program Periodically

Be sure to revisit your lockout/tagout program from time to time. Was it effective when a machine was locked out for maintenance or repair? Was there any confusion about the process? Evaluations like these can help you determine if your program needs to be improved. You can also follow the inspection guidelines provided by OSHA to discover areas for improvement.

Enhance Your LOTO Program With Lockout/Tagout Tags

Designing and improving a lockout/tagout program can be daunting and complicated. Purchasing lockout/tagout tags shouldn’t be. That’s why many companies turn to LEM Products, Inc. for all their tags.

We make it easy to find the specific tags you need for your LOTO program, including danger equipment locked out tags, and we ensure our tags meet all ANSI and OSHA standards. Order your lockout/tagout tags today! And don’t forget to check out our selection of equipment maintenance tags and options for custom industrial tags.