The 8 steps to define a LOTO procedure

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The compliance of Lockout/Tagout procedures takes place through 8 consecutive steps aimed at preventing possible accidents in the machine maintenance phase by employing physical and highly visible aids to signal equipment lockout. How is a LOTO procedure set up?

Benefits of LOTO procedures

Before defining a LOTO procedure it is necessary to understand its benefits.

The main benefits associated with implementing Lockout/Tagout practices are:

  • Application of an organized energy control program
  • Increased worker safety
  • Compliance optimization
  • Increased productivity


This is because the development and implementation of a comprehensive program of written procedures and training courses can help prevent many accidents that result in lost work days.

Lockout/Tagout procedures that comply with the international regulations provide the necessary information for employees to operate the machines safely.

In addition, good training provides employees with useful information on related hazards and control methods. In fact, authorized employees will be able to lock and restore machines faster, increasing their availability, reducing repair time by authorized personnel and thus also reducing machine and process downtime.



Steps to be followed in Lockout/Tagout procedures

To define a Lockout/Tagout procedure, 8 steps must be activated:

  • STEP 1 to identify the equipment involved in the service or maintenance activity in the workplace and the devices that will effectively separate or block the energy from the equipment. For each piece of equipment, identify energy sources in advance by conducting risk assessment.


  • STEP 2 to identify the normal procedure for safely stopping the equipment.


esempio uso loto

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  • STEP 3 to separate the machine from its energy sources by acting on the energy-isolating elements. Therefore, action must be taken on the identified disconnecting devices by, for example, opening the main switch of the machine.


  • STEP 4 or Lockout Phase in which isolation devices should be set to “OFF”, providing a lock and a single key for each authorized operator.


  • STEP 5 or Tagout Step in which isolation devices should be set to “OFF” and a warning tag applied. Affected employees must be informed by the employer or authorized employee of the application of the lockout or Tagout devices. Notification must be given before the application of controls to the machine.


  • STEP 6 to check for any residual potential energies not yet eliminated. Proper energy isolation is achieved when there is no more energy to be released; so, for example, a hydraulic system can be considered isolated when the power of the pump of the control unit that drives it has been sectioned and the “trapped” internal pressure discharged.


  • STEP 7 involves checking that actual isolation from identified energy sources has taken place. The authorized employee must then verify that:

– The equipment has been properly turned off

– Isolation devices have been identified and used to isolate energy

– Lockout and/or Tagout devices have been properly connected

– Stored energy has been removed or controlled


  • STEP 8 only after the maintenance steps have been completed can the locks/tags be removed and the equipment be re-powered.


Before the equipment is restored to normal operation, the authorized operator must:

  • Inform affected and authorized employees that the lockout and tagout devices have been removed
  • Ensure that all workers are outside the affected work area
  • Verify that all safety devices have been reassembled
  • Remove any Lockout and Tagout devices.

Only now will it be possible to reactivate the equipment.



loto form example

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Exceptions to the application of the procedure

As we have said each locking element or tagout must be removed from each energy isolation device by the employee who applied it.

There is an exception when the authorized employee who applied the Lockout or Tagout item is not available to remove it.

In fact, it can be eliminated under the direction of the employer, provided that this “possibility” has been developed, documented and incorporated into the energy control program.

The employer must demonstrate that this specific procedure provides safety which is the equivalent to the removal of the device by the authorized employee who applied it.



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