Virginia Tech® home


Gray wall of safety locks

Lockout/Tagout Quick Links

Program Summary

The Lockout/Tagout Program defines procedures for the control of hazardous energy sources in order to prevent injuries during the service or maintenance of machinery or equipment.

This program applies to employees who service or maintain machinery, equipment, or related electrical systems where there is a potential for exposure to hazardous energy sources.

Employees are expected to use work practices, such as proper de-energization and the application of appropriate lockout devices and tags, to prevent the unexpected start-up or release of stored energy.

Work on energized hazardous energy sources, such as electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, steam, etc. is not permitted at Virginia Tech without prior approval by the supervisor, departmental representative, and Environmental Health & Safety. Information regarding energized electrical work approval is covered in the Electrical Safety Program.

Departments must supply appropriate devices for lockout/tagout and ensure that personnel are trained and authorized.

Persons applying locks and/or tags must attend Environmental Health & Safety Lockout/Tagout Authorized Person Training. Awareness level training is available for personnel in the general area where Lockout/Tagout is conducted to provide a basic understanding of the program requirements.

For work on building roofs where chemical exposure may be an issue due to fume hood exhausts at the roof level, follow these Roof Access Procedures.

Lockout/Tagout Online Program


This program and the associated tools and procedures were developed to support departmental efforts to control employee exposure to hazardous energy sources and meet requirements established by regulatory and industry standards.

The requirements of this program apply to the control of hazardous energy during servicing and/or maintenance conducted by university personnel without regard to the work location.

This program establishes expectations regarding the following activities performed on machinery or equipment:

  • Service or maintenance where the unexpected start-up, activation, or release of hazardous energy could cause injury;
  • Operations where an employee is required to remove or bypass a guard or other safety device;
  • Operations where an employee is required to place any part of his or her body into an area of the machine where work is actually performed upon the material being processed, or where a similar danger zone exists during the machine operating cycle;
  • Work on equipment where an energy source itself poses a hazard to the employee (e.g., electrical systems) that must be controlled for the work to be performed safely;
  • Entry into confined spaces, such as vats or tanks, where the supply lines for chemicals, gases, or other materials into the space must be double blocked, bled, blanked, and locked out to prevent the introduction of these materials into the space while employees are performing work;
  • Minor service activities, which take place during normal operation, are not covered by this program if they are routine, repetitive, and integral to the use of the equipment or production. Alternative safety measures may be necessary; and
  • Work on cord-and-plug connected electrical equipment, for which the only energy source is electrical, is not covered by this program if the plug is under the exclusive control of the employee performing the servicing/maintenance.


Environmental Health & Safety is responsible for developing, implementing, and administering the Lockout/Tagout Program. This involves:

  • Providing training to "authorized" and "affected" persons;
  • Maintaining centralized records of training, inspection data, and reports;
  • Providing technical assistance to university personnel; and
  • Conducting an annual review of each department (or workgroup) that performs work within the scope of this program. The annual review will include the items listed on the Lockout Annual Review procedure/form. Environmental Health & Safety will retain information regarding a Lockout Annual Review for five (5) years.

Departments are expected to maintain a safe and healthy living, learning, and working environment for faculty, staff, students, and visitors to our campus.

Departments should designate responsible persons to coordinate the requirements of this program with employees and ensure that adequate lockout devices are provided and used.

Departments must ensure that all personnel performing lockout/tagout have attended necessary training and are familiar with the requirements of this program and related programs, policies, and procedures.

Employees who perform work on hazardous energy sources must:

  • Follow the requirements of this program.
  • Attend required training.
  • Wear assigned personal protective equipment, if required.

Contractors must comply with all local, state, and federal safety requirements, and assure that all of their employees performing work on Virginia Tech properties have been suitably trained. If university employees will be present on the contractor's worksite, and employees of either Virginia Tech and/or the contractor will be performing work that requires the use of lockout/tagout devices, the work activities must be performed in accordance with Virginia Tech's Contractor Safety Program.


Awareness level training is required for personnel who are working in areas where lockout/tagout is being performed, but who are not directly performing the work. They must understand the basic program requirements and procedures, and that the devices are not to be tampered with, removed, or bypassed in any way.

Awareness level refresher training is due every 5 years.

Each person who will conduct work covered by this program must attend Lockout Authorized Employee training offered by Environmental Health & Safety prior to beginning such work. Additionally, each Lockout Authorized Employee must receive specific training on each Energy Control Procedure (ECP) to be used. This training is to be conducted by a department Lockout Authorized Employee familiar and experienced with the procedure and the system, machinery, or equipment.

Refresher training is due every 3 years.

In addition to refresher training requirements listed above, retraining may be required under certain conditions:

  • An accident or incident involving hazardous energy source(s);
  • A change in job assignment;
  • A change in machines, equipment, or processes that present a new hazard;
  • Deviations from, or inadequacies in, the employee's knowledge or use of the Energy Control Procedure;
  • Periodic inspections reveal there are deviations in the Energy Control Procedure; or
  • Significant changes to the employer's written program.

General Requirements

Personnel are expected to use work practices developed in accordance with this program to prevent injuries that could result from the unexpected start-up of equipment or the release of stored energy.

Servicing and/or maintenance activities may only be performed by an "Authorized Employee" following the General Lockout Procedure or written Energy Control Procedure, as applicable. Parts of machinery or processes not verified as de-energized using approved procedures must be treated as energized.

Energy isolation devices (ex. electrical disconnect) not installed directly on the machine or equipment or located such that the purpose is obvious must be labeled to indicate the machinery or equipment served. A lockable energy isolation device must be installed with equipment as part of a new installation, major replacement, repair, renovation, or modification. Departments must make the effort to retrofit machinery and equipment with lockable energy isolation devices.

Virginia Tech requires that both a lock and a tag be used for lockout activities in order to identify the lock for personnel protection, as well as to identify the person placing the lock on the equipment or system. Locks, tags, and lockout devices may not be used for any purpose other than lockout. Locks, tags, and lockout devices must be durable enough to withstand the environment in which they will be used. Locks, tags, and lockout devices must be provided by the department as needed for isolating, securing, blanking, or blinding machines, equipment, or processes from energy sources.

Locks must be assigned, issued, and individually keyed for each Lockout Authorized Employee such that only the employee can install or remove their lock. Locks may be permanently assigned to an employee or locks may be generally available to employees provided the above conditions are met. Employees may use only their assigned lock(s). Locks and tags shall be applied to the disconnecting means by each person who will be working on the machine/system. Where this is not feasible, alternate written procedures must be approved by Environmental Health & Safety to ensure effective protection. Locks, tags, and lockout devices must not be removed without permission from the Lockout Authorized Employee who applied them and are not to be bypassed, ignored, or otherwise defeated.

Tags must be securely attached to the lock as a means of identification. Tags must be substantial enough to prevent accidental removal. The tag must show the name of the Lockout Authorized Employee applying the device, the date and time that work began, and phone or radio contact information. Tags must warn about hazardous conditions that may result if the machine or equipment is energized and must include a legend such as: Do Not Start, Do Not Operate, Do Not Close, Do Not Energize, or Do Not Open. Tags must be legible and understandable.

Where locks are necessary to secure machinery/systems from unauthorized use, lockout/tagout locks shall not be used. It is recommended that a different color lock (e.g. blue) beused for security purposes.

When more than one Lockout Authorized Employee must lockout more than one energy source, a group lockout procedure may be implemented under the direction of a Primary Lockout Authorized Employee. The Primary Lockout Authorized Employee will have responsibility for control of the group lockout procedure. Typically, the Primary Authorized Employee will place his/her lock on the lockout device first (and remove it last).

Each Lockout Authorized Employee participating in a group lockout has the right to, and should, personally verify the effectiveness of the lockout procedure. A Lockout Authorized Employee who opts to verify the lockout may perform this verification only after affixing his or her personal lock, before performing service/maintenance work, and after verifying that no other employees will be adversely affected by the verification process.

When repair or maintenance work extends beyond one shift, Lockout Authorized Employees entering the work area must affix their locks in place before departing employees remove their locks or a comparable system of assuring the continuation of lockout conditions must be developed and used. Verification of the lockout must be performed on each shift before any Lockout Authorized Employee begins work. This verification must be performed by a Primary Lockout Authorized Employee for the oncoming shift. This does not reduce the right of any Lockout Authorized Employee to verify.

A Lockout Authorized Employee on campus or at the location where the lock is located retains the sole authority to remove his or her lock, tag, and any associated lockout devices. When an employee is unavailable to remove his or her lock and it is necessary to complete the lockout procedure and restart the machinery or equipment, the Lockout Authorized Employee's supervisor has the authority to remove the Lockout Authorized Employee's lock by following and completing the Emergency Lock Removal Form. In the case of Group Lockout situations, the Primary Lockout Authorized Employee must also participate in the Emergency Lock Removal Process.

The department must develop an emergency lock removal procedure that identifies supervisory Lockout Authorized Employees who will implement the procedure, whether locks will or will not be destroyed as part of the removal, and the use and control of second keys if used.

The intent of the Emergency Lock Removal process is to transfer the responsibility of the lockout procedure to another Lockout Authorized Employee. When the Emergency Lock Removal procedure has been implemented, the completed form must be maintained by the department for five (5) years.

Environmental Health & Safety, in conjunction with supervisors and designated departmental safety coordinators, will conduct an annual review of each workgroup that performs lockout/tagout activities within the scope of this program to correct any deficiencies or inadequacies identified. Annual reviews shall be performed on written Energy Control Procedures for employees using such procedures during their annual safety evaluation. Environmental Health & Safety will retain information for reviews for 5 years.

General Lockout/Tagout Procedure

This general lockout/tagout procedure can be followed for simple hazardous energy sources on machinery/equipment/systems. Before work can begin on the actual system, the Lockout/Tagout Authorized Person must ensure that certain steps are completed.

  • Notify all parties who will be affected by the shutdown or de-energization of the machine/equipment/system. Notification must include the purpose of the work, instruction for personnel in the area not to attempt to remove or bypass locks, tags, devices, and instruction not to attempt to restart the machine, equipment, or system.
  • Identify all energy sources of the machine, equipment, or system prior to beginning work.
    • If electricity is the only energy source (including no stored energy) and the machine or equipment has a plug connection, the authorized person may proceed with servicing or maintenance activities provided that the machine/equipment is unplugged and the plug is under the exclusive control of the authorized person. 
    • If there is more than one energy type (e.g. hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical, gravity, etc.) or form (e.g. active, stored), an Energy Control Procedure must be developed and used.
    • If work will be performed on or near energized electrical systems, additional protocols are required. 
  • Shutdown the machine/equipment according to the manufacturer's recommendations or safe, or properly de-energize the electrical system.
  • Isolate all energy sources at the disconnect switch, circuit breaker, or by using an appropriate blocking device. If the energy source cannot be isolated, or if the energy isolation device is not lockable, contact Environmental Health & Safety for support.
  • Apply lockout device(s), lock(s), and tag(s) to the energy isolating device in a manner that will secure energy in a de-energized state.
  • Verify that the energy source(s) are actually isolated by attempting to start the machine, checking pressure gauges, using electrical testing equipment to prove the absence of voltage, or visually inspecting blocking devices). If the machine/equipment/system is still energized, do not begin work. Make sure that all steps have been performed correctly up to this point. If de-energization cannot be verified on the second attempt, assistance may be needed from an Electrical Qualified Person or another knowledgeable person. Notify your supervisor or Environmental Health & Safety for support.
    • Note: If electrical conductors or circuit parts are being tested with a multi-meter to verify the absence of voltage, the person must be an Electrical Qualified Person, and wear appropriate personal protective equipment for the hazard class involved.
  • Perform the servicing or maintenance activities once de-energization has been verified. 
  • Remove all materials, tools, equipment, locks, tags, and devices once the work has been completed. 
    • Note: Each lockout device shall only be removed by the "Authorized Employee" who applied it. If this is infeasible, the Emergency Lock Removal Procedure must be followed.
  • Notify all affected parties that the lockout/tagout is complete and that startup will be attempted. Remove all unnecessary personnel from the immediate area. Ensure the area is "all clear."
  • Energize the machine/equipment/system following manufacturer's procedures or established protocols.

Energy Control Procedures

Energy Control Procedures (ECP) are required for more complex lockout/tagout processes, such as when there are multiple hazardous energy sources, stored energy, or secondary hazards.

Where Energy Control Procedures (ECP) are required, the department must maintain them in written form. These ECPs must be available for Lockout Authorized Employees to use when work covered by the ECP is to be performed. ECPs must be retained by the department until superseded by annual review or update. Lockout Authorized Employees who have been trained on a specific ECP may be included on the ECP as a person authorized to use the ECP. If this is not done, the department must document which of the department's employees have been trained on each ECP in another manner.

Post ECPs at the location of the fixed machinery and equipment. If this is not feasible, ECPs may be maintained in a manner that is readily available to the Lockout Authorized Employees, and Affected Employees are able to request service or maintenance work to the responsible person(s). Where access to machinery and equipment is controlled such that only Lockout Authorized Employees have access, ECPs may be maintained in another format provided that the ECPs are readily available to Lockout Authorized Employees when needed. Contact Environmental Health & Safety for additional support on acceptable methods to achieve this

Lockout/Tagout Definitions

Affected employee: An employee who is required to use machines or equipment on which servicing is performed under the Lockout/Tagout standard, or who performs other job responsibilities in an area where such servicing is performed.

Authorized employee: An employee who locks or tags machines, equipment, or systems in order to perform servicing or maintenance activities.

Energized: Connected to an energy source or containing residual or stored energy.

Energy isolating device: A mechanical device that physically prevents the transmission or release of energy such as manually operated electrical circuit breaker; a disconnect switch; a manually operated switch by which the conductors of a circuit can be disconnected from all ungrounded supply conductors, and, in addition, no pole can be operated independently; a line valve; a block; and any similar device used to block or isolate energy. Push buttons, selector switches, and other devices that operate solely on a control circuit are not energy isolating devices.

Energy source: Any source of energy that could cause injury. This includes energies such as electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, or gravity where the energy source(s) could cause injury through the motion or operation of machinery or equipment. This also includes energies where injury may be caused by the direct transfer of the energy to the person such as electrical, pressure energies (e.g. hydraulic or pneumatic above 12 pounds per square inch), chemical, or thermal.

Lockable: When an energy isolating device has a hasp or other means of attachment to or through which a lock can be affixed or has an individually keyed locking mechanism built into it. Other energy isolating devices are capable of being locked out if it can be achieved without the need to dismantle, rebuild, or replace the energy-isolating device or permanently alter its energy control capability (e.g. with the use of a lockout device).

Lockout: The placement of a lock and, if necessary, a lockout device on an energy-isolating device in accordance with the General Lockout Procedure ensuring that the energy isolating device and the equipment being controlled cannot be operated until the lock and lockout device are removed.

Lockout sevice: A device such as chains, gang locks, valve protectors, self-locking fasteners, or blanks that utilizes a positive means to hold an energy isolation device in a safe position and prevent the energizing of a machine or equipment.

Normal production operations: The utilization of a machine or equipment to perform its intended production function.

Servicing and/or maintenance: Workplace activities such as constructing, installing, setting up, adjusting, inspecting, modifying, troubleshooting, and maintaining and/or servicing machinery or equipment. These activities include lubrication, cleaning or unjamming of machines or equipment, and making adjustments or tool changes where the employee may be exposed to the unexpected energization or startup of the equipment or release of hazardous energy.

Frequently Asked Questions

No. See definitions above for energy isolating devices.

No. Voltage pens (i.e. non-contact test equipment) may not always detect the presence or absence of voltage due to design and use limitations. They may be useful in some applications, or as a secondary means of verification. Always review the manufacturer's instructions for proper use and restrictions.

No, only those that have more than one energy type, more than one energy source, or more than one energy form (i.e. active and stored) require and ECP. Equipment similar in nature and operation (ex. air compressors) may be covered under one ECP.

No, not if fluid is being prevented from flowing into space in this manner. Two in-line valves are required for "elimination" of the hazard.

Yes, if the hydraulic energy is the source of power to drive or activate a device within a space.

Yes, as long as the guarding method chosen effectively protects the entrant.


Only if the pipe is blanked or blinded, misaligned or section removed, or double blocked and bled.

Is training mandatory? If so, when? Yes. Any person who is to perform work on energized electrical or mechanical systems must attend this training.

Class length: 3 hours.

Available online: No.

When is refresher training required? Every 3 years.

Please see the online class schedule for more information.

Is training mandatory? If so, when? Yes. it's required for those employees who work around lockout situations but are not authorized to apply locks. General awareness training on the requirements of this program is available upon request.

Class length: 1 hour

Available online: Yes

When is refresher training required? Every 5 years.

Please see the online class schedule for more information.

A device used to ensure the continuity of energy isolation during a multi-shift operation. It is placed on a lockbox. The key to the job lock is controlled by the assigned primary authorized employee for the job, or transferred from one to another if responsibility changes from shift to shift.

A mechanical device that physically prevents the transmission or release of energy, such as manually operated electrical circuit breakers, disconnected switches, manually operated switches by which the conductors of a circuit can be disconnected from all ungrounded supply conductors and no pole can be operated independently, a line valve, a block, and any similar device used to block or isolate energy.

Constructing, installing, setting up, adjusting, inspecting, modifying, troubleshooting, lubrication, cleaning, unjamming, tool adjustments, tool changes (where the employee may be exposed to the unexpected energization or startup of the equipment or release of hazardous energy).

Using the machine/equipment to perform its intended production function. Tasks are routine, repetitive, and integral to the production.

  1. Electrical greater than 50 volts
  2. Mechanical that can result in injury
  3. Hydraulic greater than 12 psi
  4. Pneumatic greater than 12 psig
  5. Gravity that can result in injury (impact, pinch point)
  6. Chemical that can result in injury (burn, acute inhalation hazards)
  7. Thermal that can result in injury (2nd degree burn or worse)

Locks, chains, valve protectors, self-locking fasteners, blanks that use a positive means to hold an energy isolation device in a safe position and prevent energization of the machine/system.

In group lockout/tagout situations, it's the authorized employee who exercises overall responsibility for adherence to the employer’s lockout/tagout procedure.

An authorized employee who oversees or leads a group of serve/maintenance workers.

This would be a machine operator, for example, who does not perform servicing/maintenance on it, or a person who works in an area where lockout/tagout is being performed. Affected employees need to understand the requirements of the program so that they do not override the procedures which could result in a maintenance employee injury.

A person who locks/tags out machines or equipment in order to perform servicing or maintenance on that machine/equipment.

Before performing any servicing or maintenance on a machine or equipment where the unexpected energizing, startup, or release of stored energy could occur and cause injury.

If workers do not have an accurate map (i.e. one-line diagram) of the electrical system, they can be exposed to potential back feeds from alternate sources, energized capacitors, undocumented switching conditions, and unknown voltages, in addition to the problem of not being able to accurately perform lockout/tagout procedures.

Source: "Compliance Takes More Than a Label," Facility Safety Management, January 2008, Chet Davis


Contact Information

Robin McCall-Miller, Occupational Safety Program Manager

Phone: 540-231-2341