Essential Steps for Properly Removing Lockout Tagout Devices in the Workplace

Essential Steps for Properly Removing Lockout Tagout Devices in the Workplace

17 May 2024

E-Square Alliance

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This informal CPD article, ‘Essential Steps for Properly Removing Lockout Tagout Devices in the Workplace,’ was provided by E-Square Alliance, a global leader in hazardous energy isolation, providing life-critical Lockout Tagout safety solutions that safeguard industrial workers worldwide.

Lockout Tagout (LOTO) is a critical safety procedure used to ensure that machines and equipment are properly shut down and isolated before maintenance or repair work begins. This process prevents the accidental release of hazardous energy during servicing, which can lead to serious injuries or fatalities. While much emphasis is placed on applying LOTO devices, the removal process is equally important and requires careful attention to prevent unintended machine re-energization.

Understanding Lockout Tagout (LOTO)

LOTO involves a series of steps designed to shut off and isolate all hazardous energy sources associated with machinery before maintenance work is performed. The objective is to ensure that machines remain inert and safe throughout the repair process, protecting workers from unexpected start-ups. Compliance with OSHA’s standard (29 CFR 1910.147) is mandatory to avoid penalties and ensure worker safety.

Pre-Removal Considerations

An effective LOTO program must be meticulously detailed and tailored to address specific machinery and operational requirements. It should encompass procedures for shutting off, isolating, locking, de-energizing, and eventually re-energizing equipment. These protocols enhance safety awareness among employees and ensure adherence to safety procedures.

For example, simply removing padlocks and tags does not sufficiently mitigate risks; a systematic approach to re-energization is also necessary to safeguard against hazards.

How to Safely Remove Lockout Tagout Devices:

The process of removing LOTO devices involves several critical steps to safely re-energize machinery:

1. Notification: Inform all affected personnel about the completion of maintenance and the impending removal of LOTO devices. This ensures everyone in the vicinity is aware of the re-energization plan and can take necessary precautions.

2. Inspection: Conduct a thorough inspection of the work area to ensure no tools, parts, or debris have been left behind that could compromise the safety or functionality of the machinery upon re-energization.

3. Verification of Clearance: Verify that all personnel are clear of the machinery. This step is crucial to prevent injuries when the equipment is re-energized.

4. Removal of Devices: Authorized personnel should remove their assigned lockout or tagout devices according to established procedures. OSHA stipulates that the individual who applied a device should be the one to remove it, ensuring personal accountability.

5. Energy Reinstatement: Gradually re-energize the equipment following specific procedural guidelines. Closely monitor the machinery for any irregularities during startup. If the re-energization proceeds smoothly, the equipment is ready to return to normal operation.

Post-Removal Best Practices:

Properly concluding the LOTO process is vital for maintaining a safe work environment. Implement these best practices to enhance safety and compliance:

  • Regularly engage with personnel to review and refine the removal process.
  • Maintain detailed records of all LOTO activities for compliance and auditing purposes.
  • Solicit and incorporate feedback from workers to improve safety protocols.
  • Continuously update LOTO procedures to adapt to new technologies or changes in operational practices.

Common Mistakes to Avoid During LOTO Removal:

Common pitfalls during the removal phase can undermine the effectiveness of LOTO protocols:

  • Premature removal of devices before completing the task.
  • Unauthorized removal of LOTO devices by personnel not involved in the application process.
  • Failure to notify all affected individuals about the removal.
  • Leaving tools or other items inside the machinery.

Creating a Safety-First Culture:

Promoting a safety-oriented culture is essential for effective LOTO implementation. When safety is a core company value, employees are more likely to engage in safe practices and communicate openly about potential hazards. This commitment to safety can transform the workplace, enhancing productivity and employee morale.


Effective LOTO practices extend beyond the application of locks and tags; they include meticulous removal procedures that safeguard against accidental re-energization. By adhering to the steps outlined and fostering a culture of safety, workplaces can protect their employees and enhance operational efficiency.

We hope this article was helpful. For more information from E-Square Alliance, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively, you can go to the CPD Industry Hubs for more articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.


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E-Square Alliance

E-Square Alliance

For more information from E-Square Alliance, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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