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How to select the right LOTO Padlock

dateMarch 10, 2020

Lockout Tagout (LOTO) padlocks aren't just another piece of hardware. They are vital safety tools in the industrial setting, aiding in the seamless implementation of rigorous safety protocols. Their core objective is safeguarding workers from hazards associated with inadvertent machine start-ups and unforeseen releases of hazardous energy.

OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.147 Section (c)(5)(ii)(D) of the standard requires that lockout or tagout devices identify the employee who applies them. To meet these requirements, Safety Lockout padlocks come in range of colours for easy-identification and differentiating the departments, padlock numbering/metal tagging, or engraving on shackle, Logo, department labels, photographs of employee codes etc.

However, with a variety of LOTO padlocks available, how does one decide which is the most suitable? Here's an extended guide:

  1. Survey the Ground Reality:
    Before diving into purchases, conduct a thorough examination of your facility. Identify every possible lockout point, understanding the unique needs and conditions of each.
  1. Opt for Non-Conductive Padlocks in Electrical Environments:
    Electricity poses a unique challenge. For electrical lockout points, it's paramount to select non-conductive padlocks. Their lightweight construction ensures they won't damage delicate switches or circuits, yet still provide robust protection against unintended activations.
  1. Consider the Surroundings for Mechanical Lockouts:
    Machines can be exposed to a plethora of environmental conditions. From corrosive chemicals to the relentless grind of outdoor weather, the chosen padlock should withstand the test of time and environment. Opt for sturdy, corrosion-resistant metallic shackles, particularly in harsh conditions.
  1. Size Matters - Especially with Shackles:
    It's not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Depending on the isolation point, the shackle length varies. Seeking expert advice on the ideal shackle length can help in ensuring a snug fit, negating any bypass attempts.
  1. Prioritize Personal Key Security:
    In line with OSHA's principle of '1-Lock, 1-Key, 1-Person', ensure that each padlock has a unique key. This guarantees that only the individual who locked out a system can unlock it, maintaining a high integrity of the lockout procedure.
  1. Manage Multiple Locks with Keyed-Alike Systems:
    When a single person is responsible for multiple lockout points, keyed-alike padlocks, which use a single key, can be an efficient solution. This minimizes the hassle of juggling multiple keys.
  1. Ensure Commitment with Key-Retaining Padlocks:
    Key-retaining locks ensure the padlock can't be inadvertently left open. The key is retained until the padlock is securely locked, a feature that adds an extra layer of safety.
  1. Customize for Clear Identification:
    With numerous workers and numerous lockout points, confusion can arise. To negate this, padlocks can be personalized with company logos, employee photos, departmental tags, or even serialized numbering. Color-coding can further simplify identification.

In essence, while LOTO padlocks might seem like a straightforward tool, their selection requires thoughtful consideration. Leveraging the expertise of professionals familiar with both regulatory requirements and real-world challenges is advisable. After all, the right padlock doesn't just lock out machinery; it locks in safety, productivity, and peace of mind.

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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