Lockout (LO), Tagout (TO) or Lockout/Tagout (LOTO)? How to Decide

Lockout (LO), Tagout (TO) or LockoutTagout (LOTO) How to Decide

You have three options.

Option 1: Lockout (LO). Lockout follows an established procedure for placing a lockout device such as a padlock on an energy-isolating device to create a physical barrier of protection. If an energy isolating device can accept a lockout device, you must use lockout – no exceptions!

Option 2: Tagout (TO). Tagout is a procedure for placing a warning tag or sign – a tagout device – on an energy isolating device that cannot accept a lockout device. Tagout devices must control hazardous energy at least as effectively as lockout devices.

Since tagout devices do not provide the same physical barrier to hazardous energy as lockout devices, it is harder to ensure that they are equally effective. An additional measure of protection must be taken to provide equivalent protection. For this reason, some employers call this system “Tagout Plus.”

Examples of additional tagout measures include removing a battery from a vehicle or removing the handle from a valve. A tagout device must be securely fastened to the energy-isolating device and must state that the equipment being serviced cannot be operated until it is removed.

Option 3: Lockout/Tagout (LOTO). As a best practice, many employers use a combination of lockout devices and tags commonly referred to as lockout/ tagout or LOTO. The lockout device, when secured on an energy-isolating device, provides the mandatory physical employee protection while the use of tags serves as both a visual and written notification to others.

Remember, the use of lockout is the minimum requirement if an energy-isolating device can accept a lockout device.

Best Practice: Require authorized employees to attach a tag when securing the lockout device to the energy-isolating device. Provide custom tags that include the authorized employee’s picture.

Did you know?

Many energy-isolating devices, such as single-pole circuit breakers and line valves, were not designed with an integrated mechanism for attaching a lockout device.

There are now a wide variety of accessories that allow lockout devices to be quickly and securely attached to energy-isolating devices, preventing the need for using tagout alone.


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