Do you understand and practice proper lockout/tagout procedures when performing maintenance on electrical equipment? Whether it's out of complacency or ignorance, there are certainly many electrical workers who don't. Of the 10 most-violated OSHA standards, based on citations issued from Oct. 1, 2004 through Aug. 30, 2005, lockout/tagout was the fifth most-cited offense.

Want to avoid receiving one of these citations and better protect yourself from shocks and arc flash? To make sure you and your workers are up-to-date on lockout/tagout procedures, it's a good idea to follow a routine set of work practices and general policies.

According to Davenport, Iowa-based Mancomm's American Safety Training division, which provides OSHA compliance products and safety training, lockout/tagout should occur in three phases. Step one is to apply lockout/tagout, which includes notifying workers in the area and labeling tags with names or pictures identifying them with the authorized workers placing them. The second step is to service and repair the equipment. The final step is to return equipment to proper operation, which must be handled by the authorized workers that applied the lockout/tagout. No one else can attach or remove locks or tags on behalf of authorized workers.

To test your knowledge of lockout/tagout, here's a quick quiz from Mancomm to help evaluate your program:

  1. What is the purpose of lockout/tagout?

    a.) To make sure the work is being completed on time.

    b.) To protect people from serious harm due to accidental release of energy.

    c.) To make sure the workplace is secure after-hours.

    d.) To make sure employees are in top physical condition.

  2. What is an energy isolating device?

    a.) A lock

    b.) A mechanical device like a valve or a circuit breaker

    c.) A tag

    d.) A and C

  3. You can help an authorized person by fastening his lock to a disconnect switch.

    a.) True b.) False

  4. What types of lockout/tagout records should be kept?

    a.) Written lockout/tagout procedure.

    b.) Inspection documents.

    c.) Training records.

    d.) All of the above.

ANSWERS: 1.) b., 2.) b., 3.) b., 4.) d.