Lockout/Tagout procedure: how to set it up?

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Too many accidents occur during maintenance and repair work on the machines. To avoid them, lockout/tagout procedure should be mastered at your fingertips. Here's how to do it.

Accidents during maintenance operations often occur as a result of equipment that has not been deactivated or circuits that have not been purged. Indeed, the operator has to access the heart of the machine with, potentially, residual energy. To avoid the danger, it is recommended to lockout and then switch the device on again.



Lockout/Tagout is a safety procedure. It aims to neutralize energy sources during a maintenance or repair operation of a machine. Repairs are then carried out safely, without the equipment restarting. Indeed, in most cases, the employee believes he is safe simply because the work equipment has been stopped.


The lockout/tagout procedure is stated in the standard NF EN 1037 as well as the directive 2009/104/CE about the minimum safety and health requirements for the use of work equipment.



Preparation of the lockout/tagout

First of all, it is essential to prepare the lockout by identifying the type of operation to be carried out, the type of energy present (electrical, mechanical, hydraulic...) as well as the risks associated with the execution of this task. Likewise, it is necessary to identify the resources required to carry out the repairs as well as to entrust the tasks to trained personnel while warning the users of the equipment that is going to be repaired.


Usually a the employer appoints an expert to perform the lockout. They will be in charge of the lockout and for switching the device back on as well as issuing certificates.


Step 1: Disconnect all energy sources

It consists in isolating the work equipment from all possible sources of energy in order to switch off the machine. Most often, it is a matter of switching off the equipment or stopping the source of fluid flow into the circuits.

  • Electrical lockout: removal of bridges, removal of fuses, removal of plugs from sockets, etc.
  • Fluidic lockout: closing of valves (in this case, a purge or drain is to be provided).
  • Mechanical lockout: uncoupling of the mechanisms.


Step 2: Lockout

The lockout corresponds to the securing of the installation. It is the step that makes it impossible to switch the machine back on. The locking-out of the equipment must be mechanical and must have a closure that cannot be forced. Each person must affix their own padlock. Lockout equipment such as lockout cables and jaws, valve lockout devices, pneumatic connections, electrical outlets or circuit breakers, and lockout padlocks are used. These accessories allow the machine to be physically locked-out and thus control the shutdown of the equipment.


Step 3: Identification

Identification is the process of locating the facility that has been logged in order to perform maintenance or repair work on the appropriate equipment, but also to alert others to the operation being performed. A lockout tag must be visibly affixed to indicate that the equipment must not be restarted.


Step 4: Checking for Energy Absence 

This step verifies the true absence of electrical, mechanical or fluid energy in the circuit. Indeed, the danger may come from residual energy.

  • Electrical lockout: use of a dedicated device to check the absence of voltage
  • Fluidic lockout: check the efficiency of the purge
  • Mechanical lockout: visual inspection of the immobilization

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When all the work on the system has been completed, the machine is then brought back into operation. The steps are generally carried out in the reverse order of the lockout operations.



In 2020, it is now time to rely on an EHS digitization solution. This is an opportunity both to gain efficiency in this process and to improve the monitoring of the health status of the system via indicators.

No more paper that is filed too quickly or processing via office automation tools with the well known risks of error. Make way for digitization! The 5 main components of this process can be digitally "transposed".


Lockout guides and legislation can be integrated from the EDM to facilitate regulatory research and access to standards. All recording procedures can also be grouped and filtered by site. In addition, lockout permits, electronically signed directly by the field employee via their smartphone, will be stored. You will then have a global view of the current lockouts (validated, in progress, to be processed...) for the different sites.


The same applies to the evaluation of the procedure as well as the inspection of the lockout. Indeed, from an audit frame, you will be able to fill in the questionnaire directly in the field via a tablet or a smartphone. The collected data is automatically fed back into the solution. The idea being "in fine" to generate an audit report enhanced with photos, plans or diagrams directly from the field. 


The global management of the lockout via a digitized tool meets the standards and laws in force and gives the company's EHS culture the tranquility needed to provide a safe working environment for employees.

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Digital HSE

Ingénieur QHSE de Formation, spécialiste des sujets HSE @BlueKanGo, auteur et speaker/Trained EHSQ Engineer, EHS topics expert @BlueKanGo, author and speaker/Ingeniero QHSE, especialista en temas de Salud, seguridad y Medio Ambiente @BlueKanGo/Przeszkolony inżynier BHP, Środowiska i Jakości, ekspert ds. tematów BHP i Środowiska, autor i mówca
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