Time to Modernize Your Lockout/Tagout Program

Filed under Expert Tips
One of the biggest problems I see today with lockout/tagout is the ignorance; but if it’s done right, it adds to efficiency." - Retired OSHA Inspector

Quick Tips to squeeze the most from your lockout/tagout system

Everyone knows that a hazardous energy control program exists to help keep workers safe while servicing equipment.  But there’s a lot more to that statement that most safety managers and business owners do not know.

Recently a retired OSHA inspector was quoted as saying: “One of the biggest problems I see today with lockout/tagout is the ignorance that if it’s done right, it adds to efficiency.”

That can all change today.  And here’s how:

The Basics

Before we jump in to the cutting edge tools and techniques, let’s go over the basics and then explore ways to take it even further to help capture the efficiency you’ve been missing out on. No matter your location in the US, all state and federal OSHA regulations require the following elements:

  1. Corporate Policy.  Use this policy as the brains of the lockout/tagout program to help convey how the company wants authorized and affected employees to utilize and enforce lockout/tagout in their company.  Each policy is unique to each business location and should adapt with time.
  2. Machine-specific procedures.  Create a graphical machine-specific procedure for every piece of equipment in your facility and install that procedure right at the point of use. This will not only help assure compliancy, but also encourage the authorized employees to follow it when they are locking the equipment out.
  3. Training.  Provide training to both authorized and affected employees. ‘Authorized’ are those who are applying the locks and ‘affected’ are those in the area during a lockout, such as operators.  Don’t forget about contractors working on your site, they apply as well and you need to be sure they are trained prior to applying a lock.
  4. Locks and Devices.  Purchase locks and devices that are specific for lockout/tagout and uniform in make and color.  By using locks that are built specifically for lockout/tagout you will discourage employees from using them for other purposes like locking their toolbox with the lock which can lead to an OSHA citation.
  5. Annual Audits.  Review every lockout/tagout procedure every year as well as audit the authorized employees.  This is done to confirm program integrity is maintained.  Be sure to keep all of the data collected during the audit as proof of compliancy should you be audited.

The Advanced Tools


After the basics are implemented, the next step is how to make it even more efficient.

Right now, the best way to do this is to utilize ScanESC™ which is an application specifically designed to ease the burden of maintaining any size lockout/tagout program.  The application utilizes open source MS Excel files (the best format for creating your procedures in), a website portal for housing your Excel files, and a tablet for scanning a QR code on the procedures to allow for quick access.

When it all comes together, your company will see the benefits of a comprehensive hazardous energy control program that is not only easier and therefore more likely to be adhered to, but also much more efficient to maintain and utilize on a daily basis.

A properly implemented lockout/tagout solution can have dramatic impacts on reducing unnecessary downtime and improving overall plant efficiency.

To learn more about how your company can benefit from modernizing your hazardous energy control program, visit our learning center for free downloadable literature or to schedule a complimentary consultation.  With all the confusion and difficulty that surrounds regulatory compliance, learning should be easy and free – at least that’s our motto.

To learn more, please submit a request through the contact us page.

About ESC Services
ESC Services, a Rockwell Automation brand, is a leader in lockout/tagout procedures. Our services include many aspects of employee safety and OSHA compliance, and our core focus is delivering custom comprehensive lockout/tagout service that yields intuitive graphical lockout/tagout procedures and modern methodology. Learn more about ESC Services here.