Management and Control of Hazardous Energy

What is hazardous energy?

Control of hazardous energy, or Lockout tagout (LOTO) program is a safety procedure that ensures dangerous machinery and energy sources are properly isolated, de-energised  and are not started up unexpectedly while maintenance or service work is being completed. Energy sources including electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other sources in machines and equipment can be hazardous to personnel.


LOTO program should apply  to the control of hazardous energy when employees are involved in service or maintenance activities such as constructing, installing, setting up, adjusting, inspecting, modifying, and maintaining or servicing machines or equipment. These activities include lubricating, cleaning or unjamming machines, and making adjustments or tool changes, where the employees may be exposed to hazardous energy. Workers servicing or maintaining machines or equipment may be seriously injured or killed if hazardous energy is not properly controlled.

Why is it Important?

Injuries resulting from the failure to control hazardous energy during maintenance activities can be serious or fatal! Injuries may include electrocution, burns, crushing, cutting, lacerating, amputating, or fracturing body parts, and others.

Requirements of LOTO program

Organizations must develop, and implement an effective program for management and control of hazardous energy. The program must

  1. explain what employees must know and do to control hazardous energy effectively when they service or maintain machinery.
  2. outline the scope, purpose, authorization, rules, and techniques that employees will use to control hazardous energy sources, as well as the means that will be used to enforce compliance. These procedures must provide employees at least the following information:
    1. A statement on how to use the procedures;
    2. Specific procedural steps to shut down, isolate, block, and secure machines;
    3. Specific steps designating the safe placement, removal, and transfer of lockout/tagout devices and identifying who has responsibility for the lockout/tagout devices; and
    4. Specific requirements for testing machines to determine and verify the effectiveness of lockout devices, tagout devices, and other energy-control measures.

What are the steps for LOTO

  1. Preparation: The first step of locking and tagging out equipment for service and maintenance is to prepare. During the preparation phase, the authorized employee must investigate and gain a complete understanding of all types of hazardous energy that might be controlled. In addition, it’s important to identify the specific hazards and of course means for controlling that energy.
  2. Shutdown:  Commence the process of powering down and locking out machines that need to be serviced or maintained. Inform any employee affected by the shutdown, even if they won’t play a role in the service or maintenance.
  3. Isolation: Isolate the machine or equipment from any source of energy such turning off power, shutting down a valve .etc
  4. Lockout/tagout:  With the machine or equipment isolated from its energy source, lock and tag out the machine, equipment ..etc. The authorized employee will attach lockout and/or tagout devices to each energy-isolating device. Apply the lockout device on the energy-isolating device in a way so it says in the “safe” position and cannot be moved to the unsafe position except  by the person performing the lockout. Tagout refers to applying a tag on the device as well. This tag includes the name of the person who performed the lockout and additional information.

Note: An energy isolating device is considered  “capable of being locked out”

    1. Is designed with a hasp or other part to which you can attach a lock such as a lockable electric disconnect switch;
    2. Has a locking mechanism built into it; or
    3. Can be locked without dismantling, rebuilding, or replacing the energy-isolating device or permanently altering its energy-control capability, such as a lockable valve cover or circuit breaker lockout.
  1. Check for stored Energy:  After disconnecting the energy source, steps 3 and 4, it does NOT guarantee that there’s no hazardous energy still stored within the machine or that it’s safe to perform maintenance. Look out for any hazardous energy that’s been “stored” within the machine, or any “residual” energy. During this phase, any potentially hazardous stored or residual energy must be relieved, disconnected, restrained, or made non-hazardous in some other way.
  2. Verify the isolation: Verify and double – check that the machine , equipment has been properly isolated and de-energised.  Authorized employee verifies this. you did it all right and it’s now safe to work on the machine or equipment.
  3. Conduct the work: Complete the required maintenance or cleaning work on the equipment/machinery safely. Verify and ensure the isolation remains secure and stay alert to any potential hazards or areas of equipment which could re-start
  1. Reactivate: After the work is complete, remove the isolation and the equipment can be restarted.  The authorized person who applied the lockout device in the first instance can remove it, to ensure safety and accidental re-energisation does not occur. Once the final lockout device has been removed, the equipment can be re-energised and started up again according to manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure the machines or equipment components are operationally intact, and that all employees, including the worker who applied the lockout device, are safely positioned or removed from the equipment
What can you do to control hazardous energy?
  1. Gather information: Determine all types of hazardous energy within the workplace that should be covered by the program. Gather documentation from the manufacturer or designer of each system about:
  2. Where energy isolating devices are located and procedures for their use.
  3. Step-by-step procedures for servicing or maintaining the system.
  4. How to safely address malfunctions, jams, misfeeds, or other planned and unplanned interruptions in operations.
  5. How to install, move, and remove any or all parts of the system safely.
  6. Perform a Task Analysis

A task identification analysis is performed by examining all the intended uses of the system from the perspective of both the manufacturer and the user. List all tasks and steps required to accomplish the task. This analysis should also include any tasks related to any possible misuse of the system. When performing the task identification, at a minimum, consider the following categories:

  • Machine/process set-up.
  • Teaching and programming of machinery.
  • Start up
  • All modes of operation.
  • Product feeding into machine/process.
  • Product take off from machine/process.
  • Process/tool changeover.
  • Normal stoppages and restart.
  • Unscheduled stoppages (control failure or jam) and restart.
  • Emergency stoppages and restart.
  • Unexpected start-up.
  • Fault-finding and troubleshooting.
  • Cleaning and housekeeping.
  • Planned maintenance and repair.
  • Unplanned maintenance and repair.
  1. Perform a Hazard and Risk Analysis

Perform a hazard and risk analysis of how workers will be interacting with the system. This analysis should outline where possible hazards are, and what the associated risk of each hazard exists.

  1. Implement Controls

The controls required will follow what hazards and risks were identified during the analysis and assessment. For example, identify what types of hazardous energy are present in a system that needs to be controlled, and what types of energy-isolating and de-energizing devices are required.

  1. Communication, Education and Training

Communicate with, and educate and train appropriate staff on how the program works, their role in the program, and what their responsibilities are.

As with all occupational health and safety management system policies or procedures, include mechanisms for documentation, records, feedback, and continuous improvement.


Don’t forget, lock out tag out not only protects the person doing the work on the equipment but also everyone else in the area.
To find out more, contact ARM Associates


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