Lockout tagout, also seen as lockout/tagout, is a series of safety procedures which are designed to protect workers from injury. Lockout tagout is a key part of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations which are designed to make American workplaces safer, and many other nations have safety systems similar to the lockout tagout method in place.
People use lockout tagout on energized equipment which has more than one power source. The system involves physically locking the equipment's power sources so that they cannot be activated, and tagging the locks to indicate that lockout tagout has taken place. As long as equipment is locked and tagged, it should be safe to perform repairs and maintenance, because there will be no chance that the equipment will be accidentally energized. Using this system drastically decreases the risk of injury everywhere from the factory floor to the physics lab.
A good lackout tagout program has several components. The first is training for all authorized and affected employees. Authorized employees are people who can perform a lockout tagout, such as the people who maintain the printing presses at a newspaper. Affected employees are people who need to be aware of the procedures because their jobs or work could be impacted. Written procedures describing the lockout tagout process, identifying all sources of energy and moving parts on equipment, and identifying authorized employees are also important, as are regular inspections to confirm that employees are complying.
In a lockout tagout, the authorized employee first locks all energy sources so that they cannot be activated, along with moving parts which could cause injury. Then, he or she tags all of the locks with a tag containing identifying information and a warning that the tags and locks can only be removed by the authorized employee who installed them. Once the work on the equipment is finished, the authorized employee confirms that the area is clear, removes the tags and locks, and restarts the machine.
Lockout and tagout devices are available from many companies which carry occupational safety equipment. Companies may also generate their own tagout devices, such as badges with photographs of authorized employees which make them easy to identify. The tags are not reusable, ensuring that there is no confusion when a piece of equipment is tagged out, and the lockout devices must confirm with certain legal requirements which are designed to ensure that they can only be removed by the authorized employee, and they cannot be accidentally breached.