What is a LOTO procedure?

There are many hazardous situations that take place in in manufacturing and other facilities. For certain particularly common or serious situations like this, it becomes necessary to implement a specialized procedure designed specifically to address a problem. In 1989, OSHA made the lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedure mandatory for companies operating in the United States. Even prior to this point, many facilities were using this strategy to help improve the safety of their employees.

What is the LOTO Procedure?

The LOTO procedure is a pretty straight forward safety policy that has saved thousands of lives and prevented many more injuries. The exact steps taken will vary some from company to company, but the basic requirements are as follows:

  • Power is Disconnected – The first step is to physically remove all power sources from a piece of machinery. This includes the primary pour source and all backup sources as well.
  • Lock Out the Power – Next, the person who will be working on the machinery will physically lock the power out. This typically means putting an actual lock around the plug so that it can’t be inserted into the machine. If there is more than one plug, then multiple locks will be needed.
  • Filling Out the Tag – The lock will have a tag on it that provides information about who removed the power, and why. This will further help to inform those in the area that they should not attempt to energize the machine at this point.
  • Holding the Key – The person who is actually entering the machine or other hazardous area will hold on to the key to the lock. This will ensure that nobody can remove the lock and restore power while the worker is still in a hazardous area.
  • Restoring Power - Only after the work has been completed and the worker has existed the area where danger exists can they remove the lock and restore power.

Creating a LOTO Program

Any company that has potentially dangerous machinery will need to have a LOTO program developed. The steps listed above will give general guidance on how the program should be developed. The specifics regarding things like what is written on a tag, what situations the program is used, and other factors can be determined by the safety manage of the facility.


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