No.1 Lockout Tagout Specialist


Lockout Tagout (LOTO) and the move to Lockout, Tagout, Try-out (LOTOTO)

Working on industrial equipment and machinery can be incredibly dangerous and each year thousands of workers get injured, sometimes fatally, whilst performing basic maintenance and repairs. A lot of these accidents occur as a result of the uncontrolled release of energy, which exists in many forms. Due to the uncontrollable and unpredictable nature of energy, UK, UA and European Regulations require that all energy sources be isolated and ‘locked out’ whilst services and repairs take place.

Read our guide below for more information on Lockout Tagout

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Why the switch from LOTO to LOTOTO?

LOTO and LOTOTO – what’s the difference? LOTO (Lock Out/Tag Out) involves disconnecting and locking out all energy sources using suitable lockout devices and ensuring stored energy is released.

The objective of safety procedures is to safeguard people (affected persons) by eliminating any chance of equipment being started up accidentally during maintenance and repair work. All power sources are shut off then locked out and tagged to verify they have been shut down.

LOTOTO (Lock Out, Tag Out, Try Out) adds a further stage to the process to maintain optimum levels of safety. For LOTOTO, the maintenance crew must attempt to start up the equipment before work begins, testing the integrity of the isolation procedures to ensure there is no possibility of an accidental start-up that could present significant hazards. Mistakes happen.

A robust LOTOTO process effectively challenges the lockout tagout, creating an environment promoting maximum levels of safety for all personnel involved (affected persons).

Why was the Try Out step added?

LOTO evolved into LOTOTO following a number of serious accidents and resulting fatalities where all required isolations were not in place before work commenced. Whilst these events were attributed to a number of different factors, including human error, implementing the additional stage to achieve LOTOTO standards takes energy isolation to a different level and protects the workforce against accidental harm.

Tryout was already a part of LOTO but the new emphasis to check the energy control procedure to challenge the lockout tagout procedure makes the Tryout a distinct step.     

What are the benefits?

  • LOTOTO ensures the implementation of robust safety protocols and safe working systems

  • Ensuring that the Lockout devices are applied correctly

  • LOTOTO mitigates risk from hazardous energy sources and creates the gold standard for protecting people

  • Through the use of simple lockout tagout devices and safety padlocks, LOTOTO can help safeguard business reputations by eliminating the risk of accidents and mishaps

  • With hundreds of thousands of people involved in potentially hazardous maintenance and repair work across the globe every day, LOTOTO protocols play a vital role in protecting both health and wellbeing.


Types of Energy


There are many different types of energy which can be potentially dangerous to workers whilst repairs and maintenance are performed on equipment. Some of the main types of energy which are potentially hazardous in the workplace are;


Electrical energy is one of the most common types of energy, is found in nearly all workplace equipment and often the one given, probably incorrectly, the single focus to LOTOTO. The obvious hazard is that it will re-start the equipment which will introduce a major risk of injury.


Chemical energy refers to the energy associated with chemical reactions; such as synthesis or decomposition. Primarily the risks associated with chemical energy include uncontrolled reactions, fires, burns and explosions.


Thermal energy is often present in steam and hot water systems where processes require or produce such things. Severe injuries are obviously highly likely through direct accidental contact with these but a pressurised steam vessel has enormous energy to be considered and isolated correctly.


Kinetic energy refers to energy of machinery or equipment due to motion; for example, rotating flywheels and belts. Electrically isolating a machine is instant but the removal of kinetic energy takes further effort and older equipment may not have the same braking systems as newer equipment. The general risks come from being caught in, caught on or caught between equipment moving as a result of stored kinetic energy.


Potential energy is similar to kinetic energy and refers to the moving parts of machinery. The risks associated with potential energy are more around the storage of energy following movement such as a bucket loaded with rocks on a conveyor where the potential energy may force the movement despite the electrical isolation.


Pneumatic energy is most likely found powering machinery via compressed air or gas. The hazards associated with pneumatic energy start with the destructive potential of a high-pressure air escape through to the sudden movement of mechanical equipment due to an unreleased pressurised air system.


Hydraulic energy is used to power forklifts, cutting equipment and pumps. Where pneumatic energy powers via air and gas; hydraulic energy powers via high-pressure fluid. An escape of hot hydraulic oil through a valve will do serious harm to the unfortunate recipient whilst sudden or slow movement of the mechanical equipment through stored hydraulic pressure carries huge force due to the non-compressible nature of the fluid.


9 Step Isolation Procedure


Generally, each piece of equipment could need locking out in different manner however there are a variety of general steps to an isolation. Performing a lock out tagout audit of your workplace will help you identify a specific isolation procedure for your equipment. Isolation refers to the blocking of all energy sources.

    1. Preparation

Before any equipment is shut down the responsible person will review the works order and possibly give a briefing to their direct team performing the work with the equipment and lockout process. They must consider the type and amount of energy that powers the equipment or is created by it, the hazards it creates and how it can be controlled. Any Safe Working Practice will have a risk assessment that must be reviewed as part of this step. Often a record must be completed – from a simple lockout register up to a full Permit to Work



    1. Notify

The responsible person MUST notify ALL affected individuals via radio, physical entry or the control room. This may require additional demarcation notification such as barrier tape or physical temporary barriers.



    1. Turn Off/Shutdown

The equipment is shut down as per the normal procedure specified by the company which, in turn, will follow the manufacturers' guidelines. The shutdown is in a methodical manner to avoid adding hazards arising from an emergency stop.


    1. Isolation

Isolation points should be clearly identified in procedures and labelled. Then, install energy isolation devices which will block the equipment from the energy source. Make sure you isolate all the energy sources and secondary supplies. Make sure you don’t just remove the fuse; this isn’t the same as isolating the device. Visually check that the isolation is successful in stopping moving equipment and, where visible, contactors have parted. Finally, check that access to the work area remains restricted and access points have not been inadvertently created during the previous steps.



    1. Lockout and Tagout

In accordance with your company’s procedures, energy isolation devices should be locked out and tagged. Make sure only devices supplied by the employer are used. Plant locks must be applied with an appropriate multi-hasp and this will then have personal locks applied for each person involved in the job. For larger jobs, a lockout box may be needed to ensure the responsible person has control over a large number of padlocks and keys. Ideally, a personal lock should be fitted with an appropriate safe isolation warning tag.

If it is not possible to lock out an energy source then an alternative method and information tag must be applied as a means of protection. Fuses can be removed, air pipes removed, lines bled, rooms locked, valve handles fixed with chain etc. Even though it may not be as convenient as switching off an isolator these additional actions could save a life. Any tag can only be removed by the applying responsible person and it should be considered an offence to bypass, ignore or forcibly remove for convenience.



    1. Controlling the Zero Energy State

You must ensure that you guard against energy left in the equipment and inspect to make sure all parts have stopped moving. Make sure to release the tension on springs or block their movement. Also block parts which could fall due to gravity (potential energy) and do the same for parts in pneumatic and hydraulic systems which could move from a loss of pressure.

Make sure to drain process piping systems, close valves and bleed lines and leave vent valves open. Make sure to relieve trapped pressure and purge reactor tanks and process lines. Make sure energy cannot re-accumulate as in the case of air systems.


    1. Try out - Isolation Verification

Make sure the hazardous area is clear of all personnel and verify that the main disconnect switch or circuit breaker cannot be switched on. Use a voltmeter or similar to check the switch and attempt to start the equipment; then shut off all machine controls when testing is finished. If a fault is spotted at this stage it is essential that all work stops and the fault is addressed – it is too tempting to work around it on the basis that others know.



      1. Performing the Work

Complete the planned work as per the risk assessment and avoid doing anything different which could accidentally re-activate the equipment and never bypass the lockout when putting in new piping or wiring. If, at any point, it is suspected that an energy source now exists stop the work immediately, report the incident and investigate when authorised to do so.


        1. Inspect and Restore

The Authorised Person must visually inspect the area and check that any removed guarding is back in place securely. They will then remove the final lock and energise the equipment based on company procedure. If there is a problem during this process, then the work must stop immediately and all LOTOTO must be re-applied.

Following successful re-energisation, a notification should be made to confirm that the equipment is ready for use and can be released back to production.


Setting up a Lockout Tagout Strategy


It is important to have a lockout tagout strategy within your business as it makes for a safer workplace and will detail all necessary steps to safely isolating equipment. There are a few steps involved in setting up a successful strategy.

    1. Appraisal of Equipment

The first step in creating a successful strategy is identifying all the equipment which requires energy isolation during maintenance, cleaning and repair. Make sure for each piece of equipment there is plenty of detail about the associated energies, isolation points and sequence of isolation. Make sure to consider environmental factors also such as confined spaces and other safety factors associated with each piece of equipment. Each isolation point should then be identified with a unique code that is then shown at the isolation point by a tag or label.

    1. Procedures

Review your appraisal to begin to develop equipment specific procedures; you can identify lock out tagout product requirements during this phase also. Procedures should then be posted alongside the equipment and an “isolation map” is a good practice to use here to make the process simple.

    1. Policy and Plan

Now procedures are in place, a written policy for lockout tagout can be prepared. It should describe all processes required in order to successfully control hazardous energy. It should include things such as responsibilities, training, isolation, lockout tagout and permits to work. Be careful that all standards refer to the UK Laws and Regulations (if as assumed to be a UK based company) as many adopt the OSHA Regulations that can cause issues in the event of an incident.

    1. Training

All those who need to be involved with the strategy need appropriate LOTO training and access to the relevant lockout tagout products. The policy and procedures need to be integrated into this training and this must include a competence assessment with a pass/fail method as evidence. Further down the line it is vital to train new staff on the policy and procedures also. Any changes to the plant must be reflected in the training delivered as well as the procedures – the latter is a common failing in modern businesses undergoing regular change through capex and CI.

  1. Implementation

Now it is time to implement the strategy, make sure members of the leadership team are all on board and prepared to motivate the team to implement this new strategy. Regular reviews and audits are also key to ensuring the process is running smoothly and safely. Remember it is often the cleaners, contractors and management that are overlooked when implementing a Safe System of Work with LOTOTO.



Why do I need a Lockout Tagout Strategy?

Having a lockout tagout strategy in place helps to keep your employees safe whilst performing repairs and maintenance on equipment. An uncontrolled release of energy is extremely dangerous and can cause serious injuries and death if handled incorrectly.  Telling quote recently from an HSE Inspector summed it up: “We are not having to create new ways of killing people!” Failure to safely isolate energy sources is still a major contributor to industrial fatalities in the UK

How do I implement a strategy in the workplace?

There are several steps to implementing a successful lock out tagout strategy in the workplace but begin by appraising all your equipment so you can understand your lock out needs and go from there.

What are the dangers associated with Energy?

Each energy source produces their own hazards but for example when it comes to the most common energy source; electrical, the dangers mainly stem from an unexpected starting of the moving machinery arising from incorrect lockout or faulty isolators.

What lockout equipment do I need?

The type of lockout equipment you need will depend on the equipment or machinery you plan to lockout. When setting up your strategy you’ll need to assess the individual requirements of each piece of equipment and choose lockout products based on this. If there are multiple isolation points you need to have a simple and robust complex isolation system (group lockout) in place.

What is a Lockout Tagout procedure?

A safe procedure to isolate all energy sources before working on equipment for cleaning or maintenance.