Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at



June 20, 1996

Mr. Neil Wasser
Constangy, Brooks & Smith
Attorneys At Law
Suite 2400
230 Peachtree Street, N.W.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303-1557

Dear Mr. Wasser:

This is in response to your June 10, 1994 letter, requesting clarification of The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) Standard, 29 CFR 1910.147. Your workplace scenarios and corresponding questions and our replies follow. Please accept our apology for the delay in responding.

Scenario 1: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Instruction STD 1-7.3, dated September 1990, covers inspection procedures and interpretative guidance on the Lockout/Tagout Standard. This instruction provides, in pertinent part, that "Similar machines and/or equipment (such as those using the same type and magnitude of energy and the same or similar controls) can be covered with a single written procedure" (Subparagraph I.2.c.). Subparagraph H.3.b. of OSHA Instruction STD 1-7.3 provides that the common procedure must identify the equipment "at least by type and location." A company has a number of machines that are identical or nearly identical (with consistent energy isolating methods and device locations) located throughout the facility.

Question 1: Is it permissible for the employer to identify the machines covered by a particular common energy control procedure by type and model number rather than by type and location?

Reply: The general objective of this portion of the standard is to ensure that employees have the information they must know to perform lockout or tagout safely on a machine or group of machines. Any method of identification which ensures that an authorized employee can determine which energy control procedure applies to the particular machine or group of machines on which servicing and maintenance is to be performed is acceptable to OSHA.

When the same energy control procedure can be used to perform servicing and maintenance on all the same type machines or equipment in a workplace, those machines or equipment may be identified by type and model number rather than by type and location. In other situations, however, identification by type and location may be necessary, since energy control procedures for machines or equipment of a particular type may differ based on their application or how they are installed.

Scenario 2: Paragraph 1910.147(c)(7)(i)(A) of the Lockout/Tagout Standard provides that each authorized employee "receive training in the recognition of hazardous energy sources, the type and magnitude of the energy in the workplace and the methods and means necessary for the energy isolation and control." A facility has 600 separate written energy control procedures (the company has developed a specific procedure for every piece of equipment) and 150 servicing and maintenance employees who may be called upon to utilize the procedures. Each of the written energy control procedures follows the steps set out in paragraphs 1910.147(c)(9), (d), and (e).

Question 2a: To what extent, if any, must authorized employees be trained on specific energy control procedures?

Reply: Authorized employees must be initially trained and retrained so as to ensure that they have the skills and knowledge of safe application, use, and removal of lockout or tagout controls called for in each energy control procedure. Each authorized employee must be able to safely perform the work required in any energy control procedure which he or she is called upon to use, however rarely.

Question 2b: Is it sufficient for the employer to train authorized employees using a sampling of written energy control procedures provided the training specifically addresses the precise location (emphasis added) of the written energy control procedures and the requirements of paragraph 1910.147(c)(7)(i)(A)?

Reply: Where a large number of procedures exist, and where they are closely similar, training may be based on a sample of those procedures. But the sample may not be entirely random it must include all the skills, knowledge and techniques which the authorized employee is required to know and to use. And, while knowing the location of written energy control procedures and the location of the machines and equipment to which they apply is essential, such knowledge is not equivalent to knowing the procedures themselves. In short, each authorized employee must be trained such that he or she knows his or her responsibilities when using the specific energy control procedure which is required to perform servicing and maintenance on specific machine(s) or equipment.

Scenario 3a: Paragraph 1910.147(c)(7)(iii)(A) requires retraining "whenever there is a change in their job assignments, a change in machines, equipment or processes that present a new hazard, or when there is a change in the energy control procedure." A company has hundreds of energy control procedures that are periodically revised. All of these energy control procedures follow the steps specified in paragraph 1910.147(c)(9), 1910.147(d), and 1910.147(e).

Question 3a: If there are changes in machines or equipment or processes that present no new hazards not currently in the workplace, is there any employer obligation for additional training? If so, please provide the level of detail necessary.

Reply: Changes in machines or equipment, ordinarily, will result in changed job assignments or changed energy control procedures, or both. In such situations, retraining is required to account for any differences in the machine(s) or equipment or how they are used, and in the energy control procedures which apply to them.

Scenario 3b: An authorized employee is transferred from Department B to Department A within a facility. The energy control procedures follow the same format in all departments. This authorized employee has lockout training. Also, there are no new hazards in Department A.

Question 3b: Are there any employer lockout/tagout retraining obligations other than reviewing with the authorized employee (portrayed in the above scenario) where the applicable energy control procedures can be located?

Reply: If the transfer leads to changed job assignment, retraining is required. Such retraining is required to address new, additional or different energy control procedures which the authorized employee is required to perform. If the format of the energy control procedure changes with the assignment (e.g., from hard copy to CD-ROM/Video), retraining must ensure that the employee is able to obtain the information he or she needs in order to perform the procedures.

Question 3c: What documentation, if any, is needed to evidence employee retraining?

Reply: The employer must certify that employee training (including retraining) has been accomplished and is being kept up to date. The certification must contain each employee's name and the relevant date(s) of training. Employer-certified employment records that indicate that an employee has received the required training and retraining may be used to meet this requirement.

Scenario 4a: Section 1910.147(c)(6) addresses "periodic inspections."

Under paragraph 1910.147(c)(6)(i) an employer is required to conduct "a periodic inspection of the energy control procedure at least annually to ensure that the procedure and the requirements of the standard are being followed." Under paragraph 1910.147(c)(6)(i)(C), the periodic inspection "shall include a review, between the inspector and each authorized employee, and the employee's responsibilities under the energy control procedure being inspected." A facility which has 600 separately written energy control procedures (one for every piece of equipment) and 150 maintenance employees who may be called to utilize the procedures is assumed.

Question 4a: What must the periodic inspection encompass? Would an employer be in compliance with the periodic inspection requirements by selecting days throughout the year to perform periodic inspections?

Also, do periodic inspections have to be performed on all 600 energy control procedures and involve all authorized employees?

Reply: Under the requirements of paragraph 1910.147(c)(6)(i), the employer is required to conduct a periodic inspection of the energy control procedure [required under paragraph 1910.147(c)(4)]. OSHA interprets this to mean that each energy control procedure must be separately inspected at least annually.

Also, under the requirements of paragraph 1910.147(c)(6)(i), the periodic inspection must include a review of the employee's responsibilities under the energy control procedure being inspected. OSHA interprets this to mean that there must be a review between an authorized employee designated by the employer as the "inspector" and all other authorized employees (and all affected employee when tagout is used to control energy) of the employee's responsibilities under the periodic inspection being inspected.

See the enclosed copy of OSHA's September 19, 1995 letter to the Law Offices of Keeler and Hackman (Mr. Lawrence P. Halprin) which provides further periodic inspection clarification.

Scenario 4b: Many of the 600 energy control procedures addressed by Scenario 4a may be used no more than once or twice a year. Paragraph I.5.a.(1) of the OSHA Instruction STD 1-7.3 provides that "group meetings between the authorized employee who is performing the inspection and all authorized employees who implement the procedure would constitute compliance" with 1910.147(c)(6)(i).

Question 4b: How could the provisions of paragraph I.5.a.(1) be applied to Scenario 4b such that the employer would be in compliance with the 1910.147(c)(6) periodic inspection requirement?

Reply: "Review" under the paragraph 1910.147(c)(6)(i) periodic inspection requirements may be completed in one or more meetings in which all authorized employees (as well as all affected employees when tagout is used) will be in attendance to review the specific energy control procedures, as the case may be.

Only the number of employees necessary to perform the energy control procedure is required when conducting, at least annually, the periodic inspection of that procedure. This clarification is delineated further in the enclosed letter referenced in our reply to Question 4 above.

Scenario 5: Paragraph 1910.147(a)(2) requires lockout when an "employee is required to remove or bypass a guard or other safety device" or, when an employee is required to place any part of his or her body into a point of operation. An exception is provided in the lockout standard for "minor tool changes and adjustments, and other minor servicing activities which take place during normal production operations . . . if they are routine, repetitive and integral to the use of the equipment for production provided that the work is performed using alternative measures which provide effective protection . . .?

OSHA Instruction STD 1-7.3.I.1.e. explains the above provision of the standard by stating, in pertinent part:

"Thus, lockout or tagout is not required by this standard if the alternative measures enable the servicing employee to clear or unjam, or otherwise service the machine without being exposed to unexpected energization or activation of the equipment, or the release of stored energy."

STD 1-7.3, Appendix C, subparagraph A-4, provides examples of several alternative safeguards, stating:

"The safeguards described include: interlocked barrier guards, presence sensing devices and various devices under the exclusive control of the employee. Such devices or guards, properly applied, may be used in clearing jams and performing other minor servicing functions which occur during normal production operations and which meet the criteria described in paragraph A.2. of this appendix."

Question 5: Do the examples described in my letter come within the scope of the minor servicing exception to the lockout/tagout standard? If so, do these examples meet the exception to the lockout standard?

Reply: The examples described in your letter contain insufficient information to determine whether or not they come within the scope of the minor servicing exception delineated in the note at the end of paragraph 1910.147(a)(2)(ii). See the enclosed copy of OSHA's September 16, 1992 letter to The Printing Industries of America, Inc. (Mr. John Runyan) which provides an excellent example of the level of information necessary to determine applicability of the minor servicing exception.

Scenario 6: Paragraph 1910.147(f)(2)(ii) requires that whenever outside servicing personnel are to be engaged in lockout or tagout activities, the on-site employer must ensure that its "employees understand and comply with the restrictions and prohibitions of the outside employer's written energy control program."

Assume that an outside employer reviews and follows the on-site employer's written energy control procedures for the machines and equipment on which outside employees will be performing servicing and maintenance. This is viewed as a realistic approach from the standpoint that the on-site employer is far more knowledgeable about the various hazardous energy sources and corresponding isolating devices than the outside employer. Thus, machines and equipment on which outside employees are to perform servicing and maintenance are locked out by on-site employees. The outside employee then verify lockout effectiveness and assume control of the machines and equipment using a lock box procedure.

Question 6: Would an on-site employer whose employees meet the participate in lockout as described above paragraph 1910.147(f)(2)(ii) requirement? If not, please specify what the obligations of the on-site employer are under this provision of the Lockout/Tagout Standard.

Reply: Both on-site and outside employer obligations under 1910.147(f)(2) are addressed in the preamble of the Final Rule (59 F.R. 36680 and 36681), a copy of which is enclosed for your use. Please refer also to STD 1-7.3, Appendix C (see paragraph B. on page C-2) for procedures applicable to group lockout situations, such as the one you described.

We appreciate your interest in employee safety and health. If we can be of further assistance, please contact the Office of General Industry Compliance Assistance [at (202) 693-1850].


John B. Miles, Jr., Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs






August 11, 2000---Added this memo






Directorate of Compliance Programs
SUBJECT: Interpretation of 29 CFR 1910.141(c)(1)(i): Toilet Facilities


On April 6, 1998 we issued an interpretation of 1910.141(c)(1)(i), which requires employers to make toilet facilities available so that employees can use them when they need to do so. A copy of that memorandum is attached.

The 1998 memorandum states that proposed citations for violations of this standard are to be forwarded to the Directorate of Compliance Programs (DCP) for review and approval. Shortly after the interpretation was issued, it was decided that the review and approval was to be at the Regional Office level, but that copies of any citations issued based on the April 6, 1998 interpretation should still be sent to DCP.

This topic continues to generate interest from the public. Early this year we had a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for copies of citations issued. Therefore, please continue to send copies of any citations issued pursuant to the 1998 interpretation to the National Office. If you have any questions, please contact [the office of General Industry Compliance Assistance] at (202) 693-1850. The copies should be sent to the following address:

Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs
U.S. Department of Labor - OSHA
200 Constitution Avenue, NW Room N-3603
Washington, DC 20210