Section 1 – Procedural Overview

Table of Contents:

Lock-out/Tag-out Table of Contents


St. Olaf College is concerned about the health and safety of all of its employees. A safety program in the area of machine and equipment maintenance and servicing is only one aspect of a safe workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued regulations requiring the use of locks and/or tags prior to performing service or maintenance on equipment and machinery.

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Our Goal

The goal of locking out machinery and equipment prior to maintenance or servicing is to avoid accidents that can occur from unexpected start-up or release of stored energy. It is estimated that almost 40 million workers in the United States could be exposed to hazards from unsecured equipment. Implementation of OSHA lock-out/tag-out regulations and a supporting safety program could prevent 120 deaths and 60,000 injuries per year.

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Be Aware

  1. Machines can be powered by many different sources:
    1. Electricity
    2. Gas
    3. Compressed Air
    4. Coiled Springs
    5. Raised Load
    6. Steam
    7. Pressurized Liquids
  2. Some machinery and equipment is powered from multiple sources. For example, a machine might use electricity, gas, and a raised weight which is residual energy. Any one of these single sources, by itself, even if the others are turned off and locked out, presents a danger to maintenance workers.

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What is Energy Lockout?

A lock-out is a device which provides a positive means for rendering a switch, valve, raised load, coiled spring, or any energy source inoperative. Lock-out is a necessary step for ensuring worker safety prior to performing maintenance or service. The lock-out device may be a padlock, blanking device, restraining bar, and chain or any device which prevents a machine from being energized or releasing stored energy.

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What is a Tagout?

A tag-out (or lock-out tag) shows who locked out the mechanism, the time, date, and department. Other information such as phone or radio page number can also be shown. Tag-outs should be durable and securely fastened to the locking mechanism so they don’t fall off accidentally.  The tags should be legible in all weather conditions. Tag-outs should only be applied and removed by the same authorized individual. A tag-out warns others that a particular switch, valve or energy source is “locked out” in the off or safe position and should not be operated. Secure locking devices such as padlocks should always be used with a lock-out whenever possible.

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Ten Elements of Our Lockout Program

  1. Determine what energy sources will be locked out.
  2. Can locks be applied?
    1. Ensure that the equipment to be serviced can be locked out and de-energized. Locks should be applied whenever possible.
    2. If locks can not be applied, your supervisor will instruct you on how to proceed.
  3. Determine sequence to follow.
  4. Determine who will apply locks.
  5. Multiple maintenance personnel:
    1. If there are multiple maintenance personnel on a given job where lock-out is necessary, each member of the team must apply his/her lock/tag to all the lock-out points.
  6. Be sure all stored energy is safely released or blocked:
    1. Stored energy can be a raised blade or weight, residual line pressures from gases or liquids, capacitor stored electricity, reservoir tanks, or coiled springs. It’s NOT enough that only energy sources are blocked, stored energy is dangerous, too.
  7. Follow Facilities Department procedure for performing maintenance/service operations.
  8. Before removing locks/tags and returning machinery to operation, four areas must be checked. Verify that:
    1. all safety guards are back in place
    2. work is complete and tools are put away
    3. workers are positioned safely for start-up
    4. controls are positioned correctly for start-up and machine is “operation ready”
  9. Only the person who applied a lock and/or tag can remove it!
    1. In accordance with St. Olaf College procedure, only the person who applied the lock and/or tag should remove it. If there is more than one member of the maintenance team, team leaders should remove their locks LAST, after all others have been removed.
  10. Follow the predetermined sequence of unlocking and untagging the lock-out points to return the machine to service:
    1. Be sure no one is on, in, or attempts to operate the machine during this step.

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Six Lock Tips

  1. One Lock – One Key
    1. Each padlock used in equipment lock-out should have only one key issued to the assigned person. All other keys should be destroyed.
  2. Identify Keys
    1. All locks will have a numbering system to identify the locks to those authorized to apply and remove them.
  3. Use multiple lockout devices if needed.
  4. It is very important that employees that are assigned locks never give their assigned key or lock to someone else.
  5. It is also important to always use a tag-out along with a lock.
  6. If the device requiring lock-out cannot accommodate a lock, contact your supervisor for further direction.

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