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10 Most Common Lockout Tagout Mistakes Organizations Make

dateMay 19, 2020

The process of Lockout Tagout (LOTO) is a cornerstone of workplace safety. Its fundamental objective is to ensure that machines and equipment are properly shut off and not restarted unexpectedly during maintenance or servicing. This procedure safeguards employees from the inadvertent release of hazardous energy. While its concept is straightforward, the effective implementation can be fraught with errors if not approached with the requisite attention and expertise.

It's alarming to note that many industries often misunderstand the essence of Lockout Tagout. They perceive it merely as a checklist item, purchasing few local and irrelevant devices from local vendors just to satisfy compliance requirements. They mistakenly believe that merely owning a basic lockout kit makes them compliant. However, LOTO is not merely about equipment; it's a holistic strategy that requires structured execution.

Common LOTO Missteps Organizations Commit:

  1. Opting for Cheap, Non-Specific Devices or Kits: Some organizations, in a bid to cut costs, choose generic or cheaper alternatives that do not meet their specific requirements.
  2. One MSP / ECP for All Similar Looking Machines: Utilizing a single Machine-Specific Procedure (MSP) or Energy Control Procedure (ECP) for different machines, despite their unique configurations and risks, is a flawed approach.
  3. Opting for Only Electrical Isolation Devices: Relying solely on devices for electrical isolation overlooks other forms of hazardous energy like thermal, chemical, mechanical, etc.
  4. Neglecting the Need for Continuous Training: The importance of regular training and retraining is often undervalued, leading to skill erosion and outdated practices.
  5. Lack of Regular Audits: Omitting periodic inspections means potential procedural lapses and wear-and-tear on devices go unnoticed.
  6. Use of Generic Padlocks: Utilizing regular or locally-sourced padlocks, which don't meet industrial safety standards, compromises the integrity of the LOTO process.
  7. Insufficient Lockout Devices: An inadequate number of devices can lead to shortcuts or procedural deviations.
  8. Ignoring Department-Specific Stations: Using common in-house cabinets rather than individual stations tailored for different departments can cause confusion and procedural errors.
  9. Overlooking LOTO Accessories: Vital supporting elements like visual signage, posters, energy tags, barricades, and information stands, which enhance safety and clarity, are often disregarded.
  10. Neglecting LOTO Registers: These crucial documents ensure accountability and traceability but are frequently absent in many organizations.

The underlying theme across these missteps is a lack of thorough awareness and understanding of the LOTO system. Many industries, despite facing repeated incidents, fail to grasp the intricacies of implementing LOTO methodically. Mere procurement of LOTO devices for compliance's sake is insufficient. A comprehensive awareness of the correct devices, their precise deployment, methodical implementation procedures, the significance of continuous training, and the importance of regular inspections is paramount.

It's crucial for organizations to recognize that Lockout Tagout is not just a procedural formality but a life-saving strategy. Mistakes, no matter how minor they seem, can lead to catastrophic consequences. As the saying goes, "Safety doesn't happen by accident." It's a continuous commitment to diligence, awareness, and proactive measures. Prioritize safety, understand the nuances of LOTO, and ensure a safer workplace for all.

E-Square Compliance and Education Division
About the Author

E-Square Compliance and Education Division

A team of safety professionals and educators united to enhance workplace safety with essential Lockout Tagout knowledge. We offer expertise to foster safety compliance and effective LOTO protocols across industries.

E-Square Blog: Expert Analysis and Best Practices for Isolation Safety

The E-Square blog features advice, information and support on everything related to Lockout Tagout, including best practices, industry news, latest innovations and regulatory updates.

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