Lock Out Tag Out Explained


L.O.T.O. is not your state’s lottery.  It stands for Lock Out Tag Out which means before you work on a piece of machinery, whether to clear a jam, make adjustments, or replace parts you lock out the power source to the equipment in question and then tag out so people know who is working on the equipment.  For this lesson, the equipment we’re using is a kitchen mixer but the principal works for all types of machinery and equipment.


It’s another day on the production line when, Uh Oh. Something is not working properly.  We’re not getting the RPM needed to mix the batter properly.  So now we know we need to get into the mixing bowl and check it out, possibly having to make adjustments on the pastry hook as it’s noticeably not turning properly. It could be a simple fix, like loose nuts and bolts holding the hook in place, or more seriously, a cracked shaft.  Either way, before climbing into the mixer, find the power source and turn it off.  In this case, we just need to pull the plug.


But is it enough just to pull the plug? NO!  What happens if while you are working in the mixer and someone in production comes upon the scene. They know the mixer is on the production schedule but see it’s not operating and notice that the mixer is unplugged.  They don’t see you in the mixer, they don’t see any signs that the mixer is down.  So with only the best of intentions, this person puts the plug right back into the outlet and now the mixer is charged and ready to go while you are in there working on the pastry hook. Not good.


However, if you had locked out the power source to the mixer no one can unintentionally turn the power back on while you are exposed to the moving parts.  They will see the lock and read the attached tag that has your name and department on it, the date, and who may remove the lock and tag along with any other instructions left on the tag to inform others of what’s going on and most importantly, they now know that a person is working in the mixer.

When you have completed the task, remember to remove the LOTO from the power source and turn it back on.


Your employer should supply you with the Locks and tags needed to do a proper L.O.T.O. especially if you work in maintenance or are an approved technician to do adjustments and repairs to equipment.  They need to be red in color so they stand out.  If your employer does not furnish you with Locks and tags or discourages you in any way from using L.O.T.O. call OSHA immediately at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).  The life you save may be your own.

If you liked what you’ve read here, check out our other articles.



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