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 https://www.osha.gov.

October 29, 1996

Mr. Stephen M. Mabley, MS, CIH
Director of Safety and Health
11933 Tech Road
Silver Spring, MD 20904

Dear Mr. Mabley:

This is in response to your letter of November 21, 1995, addressed to Ms. Patricia Clark, former Director of this Directorate. In your letter, you requested clarification with regard to the applicability of the Lockout/Tagout Standard, 29 CFR §1910.147, to inspections conducted by authorized employees. Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding to you.

In your letter, you inquired whether it is the intent of OSHA by stating that "an authorized employee" shall conduct periodic inspections in the Lockout/Tagout Standard, to preclude consultants and other third parties from conducting required periodic inspections and audits of a company's Energy Control Program. Pursuant to 1910.147(c)(6)(i)(A), a periodic inspection must be performed by an authorized employee. For the purpose of complying with the intent of this standard, authorized employee means a qualified person whom the authority and responsibility to perform a specific lockout or tagout inspection has been given by the employer. A qualified person is a person who has been trained and has demonstrated proficiency, in compliance with 1910.147(c)(7), to perform servicing and maintenance on the machine or equipment to be inspected.

Therefore, please note that the function of conducting periodic inspections by consultants would meet the above criteria for the purpose of complying with the lockout/tagout standard requirement.

Thank you for your inquiry. If you need further assistance, please contact [the Office of General Industry Compliance Assistance at (202) 693-1850].


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