Lock Out Tag Out Training and Its Importance in the Workplace

Lock Out Tag Out Training and Its Importance in the Workplace

Too many times, employees on a job site are injured or killed because they thought a machine was off, or the power to the machine was safely turned off when it wasn’t. Lock out tag out training is the best measure you can take to prevent these types of accidents from happening on the job site. It has actually been estimated that lock out tag out training saves 120 lives a year and prevents 50 thousand injuries a year. Lock out tag out is a method of protecting workers by making completely sure that all machines are turned completely off before operating on them or working around them. If you don’t have a lock out tag out program on your job site, then you are running the risk of machines unexpectedly starting back up at inopportune times. Machines have the tendency to start back up on their own when stored energy was not correctly released, or when someone starts the machine back up themselves without first checking with everyone else in the vicinity that it is safe to do so.

According to the lock out tag out standard, it is required that hazardous energy sources, before any maintenance or service is done, be “isolated and rendered inoperative.” Energy sources that are considered hazardous are:

  • Pneumatic
  • Hydraulic
  • Mechanical
  • Chemical
  • Thermal
  • Gravitational

These energy sources can be active currents or stored in a capacitor. Failure to recognize any and all energy sources and which ones are potentially dangerous is imperative to worker safety. Always remember, all sources must be “isolated and rendered inoperative.”

According to OSHA, there should be 3 basic requirements for a lock out tag out program. The 3 main elements are training, written procedures, and inspections. Authorized employees and affected employees must be trained in lock out tag out safety. Authorized employees are the ones who perform maintenance and/or servicing work on the machines and perform the actual lock out tag out. Affected employees are anyone who could possibly be affected in any way by equipment that is locked or tagged out. Employees who are considered “affected” do not actually perform servicing or maintenance work, but they still need to be aware of lock out tag out procedures and their place in them.

lock out tag out training

As we have already mentioned, lock out tag out procedures require written procedures that detail the lock out tag out proceedings. This is REQUIRED for any machines that operate off of 2 or more energy sources. The importance of written procedures cannot be understated. Written procedures convey any and all important information to the workers who will be performing the lock out tag out and should include step by step instructions for locking and tagging out any energy sources, releasing any stored energy inside of the machines, and confirming that the machines cannot be restarted once the lockout has been applied. Clear and concise documentation is required for any group lock out tag out procedures and these procedures need to be kept up to date. Any changes made to the written procedures must be communicated to anyone and everyone who could possibly be affected by the changes. Supervisors and managers also need to check and double check that all the information contained in the written procedures is correct. It should go without saying that miscommunication when dealing with machines can be deadly.

The Basic Steps of a Lock Out Tag Out

Think, plan, check, and double check.

  • Those who are in charge must think through the entire procedure. 
  • Recognize all parts of the system that need to be shut down.
  • Decide which switches, people, and machines will be involved with the process.
  • CAREFULLY plan how restarting the machine will occur.


  • Alert all relevant persons that a lock out tag out is about to occur. 
  • Recognize all relevant power sources regardless of their distance from the job site.
  • Recognize all electrical circuits, pneumatic and hydraulic systems, spring energy, and gravity systems regardless of their distance from the job site.

Neutralize all relevant power at the source.

  • Disconnect the electricity. 
  • Block all movable parts.
  • Block or release spring energy.
  • Bleed or drain all pneumatic and hydraulic lines.
  • Lower all suspended parts to resting positions.

All power sources must be locked out!

  • You should be using a lock that is specifically designed for this procedure. 
  • Each and every employee should have their own personal lock.

lock out tag out training

Tag out any and all machines and power sources.

  • Machine controls. starter switches, pressure lines, and suspended parts should all be tagged. 
  • All tags must include your name, your department, how you can be contacted, the date and time of the lock out, and the reason for the lock out.

Perform a COMPLETE test.

  • Check, double check, then check again all the steps we have mentioned. 
  • Personally check everything!
  • Test the system by pushing start buttons, operate valves, and test circuits.

Make sure to follow all safety procedures for restart once the job has been completed. Only remove your own locks and tags. Once all machines are ready and all workers are deemed safe, you can now turn the power back on and get to to work.

Lock out tag out training cannot be understated in its importance. Make sure you and your fellow employees are properly trained in lock out tag out procedures whether you are directly involved in the lock out tag out process, or if you are a worker who will be affected or will be working in the vicinity of one of these machines. Lock out tag out training will not only prevent injuries and increase safety standards on the job site, but it will also save lives!

About The Author
Brett Gordon is a writer for Safety Partners, LTD.

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