April 5th, 2020
Lockout Padlock Guide
One of the most important aspects of any lockout/tagout program are the padlocks themselves. Your facility may need many types of lockout devices, but every program needs durable, safe locks. But what makes a good lockout padlock, and how should you choose the best lock for my facility? Let's start with the requirements every lockout padlock needs to meet.
The lock must be able to withstand the environment in which it is being used, for as long as it is being used.
Padlocks can be standardized by color, shape, or size. The purpose of standardization is to allow employees to easily distinguish lockout locks from other locks that may be used in your facility (e.g. security locks).
The locks must be strong enough to prevent removal without the using of special metal cutting tools.
The locks must Identify the employee who placed the lockout. Most lockout padlocks have space where an employee can write his or her name and occupation. Alternatively, some facility prefer to have their locks engraved.
- Unique to lockout
Lockout padlocks must not be used for any other purpose in your facility. Using locks for another purpose might cause confusion and cause employees to mistake lockout padlocks for other devices.
Do not use generic padlocks for lockout/tagout, as this practice may not be safe. Not every padlock is designed to withstand lockout applications, and some, like padlocks with breakaway shackles, are even designed to be easily broken and removed.
Your facility may need many types of lockout devices, but every program needs durable, safe locks.
Keying systems refer to the lock mechanism and its relationship to a key; in other words which key works with which lock.
Keyed Different locks are the most commonly used locks in lockout applications. In this keying system, every lock has a unique key. This ensures that an unauthorized employee cannot accidentally open the wrong the padlock.
Keyed Alike locks can be opened with one key. This keying system is sometimes used when one employee is responsible for multiple lockout applications. OSHA requirements state that only the employee who placed the lockout should have the ability to remove the lockout, so it is imperative not to distribute keyed alike locks to multiple employees.
Lockout padlocks can have varying shackle sizes, the most common of which are 1.5" and 3" long shackles. Long shackle padlocks are typically chosen for special lockout applications, such as situations that require the shackle to pass through multiple hasps.
Because OSHA requires lockout padlocks to be substantial, most lockout padlocks are made from aluminum or steel. Steel is often used for the shackle of lockout padlocks. Hardened steel is a common material. If you plan on using locks in a high-impact or extreme environment, consider using a padlock with a stainless steel shackle, which offers better protection against the elements than solid steel.
If some of your employees' primary language is other than English, lockout labels must accommodate them. Safety messaging must be clearly understandable to your employees. Bilingual labels are often a good solution for many workplaces.
The most important consideration is compliance. Your locks need to be safe and effective. The next step is to tailor your locks to the needs of your facility. What are the colors, labels, and materials that will work best for my facility? If you are not sure what material would best suit your workplace, choosing locks with the strongest, most durable construction is your best option. It is better to over-perform than to be unsafe. If you are not sure precisely what lockout devices you need, you may wish to, consider contacting a safety consulting company. To read more, visit OSHA's Lockout/Tagout Standard 1910.147.
Written by Eric Prinzing