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Safety Toolbox Talks


Machinery or equipment that starts up unexpectedly or releases stored energy while someone is performing maintenance or repairs can cause serious injury. Lockout/tagout procedures prevent these types of accidents from happening. Although only authorized employees are permitted to perform lockout procedures and to remove locks and tags, all employees need to understand lockout and tagout procedures.

What Is Lockout?

Lockout means putting a lock on a machine or piece of equipment to make sure it stays off. Electrical, mechanical, chemical, thermal, hydraulic, pneumatic, raised-weight, pressurized and coiled-spring systems must be neutralized for safety during maintenance and repairs.

A lockout device is a lock, block or chain that keeps a switch, valve or lever in the “off’ position. Lockout locks must meet special requirements and must be identified by the name of the worker who installs and removes them. Only use locks provided by your employer for lockout purposes. Never use these locks for toolboxes, storage sheds or other uses.

What Is Tagout?

When equipment can’t be locked out, it must be tagged out with a special tag that warns workers to not start up the equipment. A tag is not a physical restraint. Tags must clearly state: “Do not operate or remove this tag.” Tags must be placed on each handle, push button, lever or circuit breaker used to energize the equipment.

Tags must meet special requirements and show the identity of the authorized employee. Both locks and tags must be strong enough to prevent unauthorized removal and to withstand various environmental conditions.

Restarting Equipment

After the maintenance or repair work is completed, only the same authorized employee who installed the lock may remove and restart the equipment. Before restarting the equipment:

  • Make sure all other workers are a safe distance away
  • Remove tools from the equipment
  • Reinstall machine guards
  • Notify workers that the energy is restored and the machine is working

Lockout Steps

  • 1.
    Identify all parts of any systems that need to be shut Find the switches, valves or other devices that need to be locked out
  • 2.
    Tell employees that the equipment will be locked out and why
  • 3.
    Locate all power sources, including stored energy in springs or hydraulic systems
  • 4.
    Neutralize all power at its Disconnect electricity; block moveable parts; release or block spring energy
  • 5.
    Drain or bleed hydraulic and pneumatic lines
  • 6.
    Lower suspended parts to rest positions
  • 7.
    Lock out all power sources. Use a lock designed for this purpose. Each worker should have a personal lock
  • 8.
    Test operating controls. Turn on all controls to make sure the power doesn’t go on
  • 9.
    Turn controls back to “off”
  • 10.
      Perform necessary repairs or maintenance