Lockout/Tagout explained

Would you fix a car while someone is busy driving it? NO. Would you open an electric appliance while it is plugged in and switched on to fix it if it is making a strange noise? NO. 


This is the basic principle of lockout/tagout systems.


You wouldn't do the above mentioned things, so why would you repair equipment or mechanical components at work if there might be a danger of someone (being unaware that you are working on the equipment) hitting the on-button?


This is something that can and has cost lives before and can lead to serious injury or the loss of limbs. 


A more technical explanation of the term "lockout" is the act of neutralising any energies of equipment and mechanical components in order to safely conduct maintenance or inspection. This is especially necessary for electrically powered equipment.


Lockout procedures need to be in place in the work environment where equipment needs to be inspected and maintained. A basic lockout procedure consists out of three phases: pre-lockout, mid-lockout and post-lockout.


Pre-lockout consists of issuing a lockout work permit by the person in charge. Locks and keys are then drawn to deactivate the equipment and the locks are secured on the deactivated equipment. A lockout tag is then added that states who is currently working on the equipment, together with the date of the lockout and a clear indication of whether it is currently in use.




Mid-lockout is the continuance of ensuring that the equipment remains locked out during the maintenance in progress. Only the person who issued the lockout work permit has the authority to remove the lock and should be the only one carrying the keys.


Post-lockout means to first remove any tools and loose parts after maintenance and also replace any equipment guards that have been removed for the maintenance procedure. Last but not least: all staff need to be accounted for and steer clear of the equipment and any moving parts.


Only after these steps have been completed can the necessary tests be run and operation of the machinery resume.


Lockout procedures are there and need to be followed to minimise or eliminate the occurrence of accidents due to energy sources being accidentally or unlawfully activated.

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