Every year, hundreds of workers are injured or killed in accidents involving machinery or other heavy equipment which unexpectedly moved or began operation during maintenance or inspection. Many of these incidents can be prevented using lockout/tagout mechanisms which are designed to prevent unexpected powering up or operation. Common examples of equipment at youth-serving community organizations that may require such protocols include:

  • Power tools
  • Pool pumps
  • Water pump or boiler
  • Cardio equipment or other fitness equipment
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Electric or gas mechanical equipment
  • HVAC
  • Lawn care equipment

Lockout mechanisms—as their name suggests—are key or combination-based locks which are specific to a particular worker, and which can be attached to equipment in-order to prevent it from being turned on while the lockout mechanism is deployed. Tagout mechanisms are often attached by wire and serve as a physical obstruction to powering up equipment while it is being worked on. While not as fool-proof as lockout mechanisms—they can be used when lockout is not available or practical, and are typically designed to require at least 50 pounds of force to remove.

Any organization that is using lockout or tagout safety mechanisms should ensure the following:

  1. A written policy that includes a complete, up-to-date list of all equipment subject to these mechanisms
  2. A written policy of lockout/tagout procedures are shared with all staff responsible for working on or operating equipment subject to these safety mechanisms
  3. Training on lockout/tagout mechanisms are completed by all staff responsible for working on or operating equipment subject to these safety mechanisms
  4. Equipment-specific lockout/tagout procedures are prominently posted next to each specific piece of equipment
  5. Lockout and tagout mechanisms and policies are inspected and updated annually
Relying on staff to simply power down heavy equipment or machinery provides too much opportunity for human error or mishap. Strict adherence to lockout and/or tagout procedures is one of the most effective ways to eliminate such room for error.