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Standard Interpretations - (Archived) Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.147(c); 1910.147(c)(4); 1910.147(c)(5); 1910.147(c)(6); 1910.147(c)(7); 1910.147(c)(7)(iv)
• Status: Archived

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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

May 10, 2005

Mr. David A. Ward
Safety Examiner
338 West Dog Ridge
Ashland, KY 41102
Dear Mr. Ward:

Thank you for your May 14, 2004, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Enforcement Programs. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any questions not delineated within your original correspondence. You had specific questions regarding the Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), §1910.147, requirements for an energy control program. We apologize for the delay in our response. Your paraphrased questions and our replies are provided below.

Question #1: What is required in the lockout/tagout (LOTO) program, and must this program be in writing?

Reply: The LOTO standard contains criteria for establishing an effective energy control program. Pursuant to §1910.147(c)(1), an energy control program, includes: energy control procedures, employee training, and periodic inspections, which jointly function to ensure that hazardous energy sources are isolated and rendered safe before, and while, any employee performs any servicing or maintenance on any machinery or piece of equipment. The LOTO standard does not require a written energy control program; however, the standard does have several requirements regarding documentation and certification of records:

  1. Energy Control Procedure. Paragraph 1910.147(c)(4)(i) states that employers must document the procedures used to isolate from its energy source(s), and render inoperative any machine or equipment prior to servicing, maintenance, or repair.1 These procedures are necessary if energization, start up, or release of stored energy is possible and could injure workers.

  2. Periodic Inspection. Paragraph 1910.147(c)(6)(ii) requires employees to certify the inspection by documenting the date of the inspection and identifying the machine or equipment inspected and the employee who performed the inspection. The inspection records provide employers with assurance that employees can safely service, maintain, and repair machines and equipment covered by the Standard.

  3. Training. Paragraph (c)(7)(iv) provides that employers must certify that individual employees completed the required training and that this training is current. The certification must contain each employee's name and his/her training date.

Question #2: Must written energy control procedures include the elements given below:

  1. Procedures if an energy isolating device is not capable of being locked out?
  2. Procedures if an energy isolating device is capable of being locked out, [but will be tagged out,] including the Full employee protection requirements?
  3. Protective materials and hardware, including LOTO device durability, standardization, and identification requirements?
  4. Application of controls, including energy isolation?
  5. Release from lockout/tagout?
  6. Group lockout/tagout?
  7. Shift or personnel changes?
  8. Contractor responsibilities?
  9. Periodic inspections?
  10. Training and communication?

Reply: Paragraph 1910.147(c)(4)(ii) states that the procedures must clearly and specifically outline the scope, purpose, authorization, rules, and techniques that employees are to use to control hazardous energy and the means to enforce compliance. The document must include at least the following elements:

  • a specific statement regarding the use of the procedure;
  • a specific procedural steps for shutting down, isolating, blocking, and securing machines or equipment to control hazardous energy;
  • specific procedural steps for placing, removing, and transferring lockout or tagout devices, including the responsibility for doing so; and
  • specific requirements for testing a machine or equipment to determine and verify the effectiveness of lockout or tagout devices, as well as other energy-control measures.

OSHA used the word specific in the standard to describe the elements of the procedure because authorized employees must know and understand how to control hazardous energy effectively when they service or maintain machinery and equipment. Detailed procedures are required because over generalization does not provide the level of information necessary for an employee to use the procedure to effectively isolate hazardous energy.

Your items a, b, d, e, f, g, and h are elements that must be contained in the energy control procedure(s), if they are relevant to the types of servicing and/or maintenance activities at the workplace.
2  Likewise, energy control procedure(s) must identify the protective material and hardware that will be used to isolate energy (your item c), but while the employer must provide materials/hardware that meet the durability, standardization, and identification provisions of §1910.147(c)(5), these details need not be explicitly incorporated into the procedure(s). The LOTO standard does not require that periodic inspections (your item i) or training and communication (your item j) program elements be incorporated into an energy control procedure, since these are distinct and separate program requirements.

As you may know, the State of Kentucky administers its own occupational safety and health program under a plan approved and monitored by Federal OSHA. States that administer their own OSH plans must promulgate regulations that are "at least as effective" as the Federal regulations. Kentucky's LOTO standard is almost identical to the Federal standard, including the specific sections, §1910.147(c)(4)(i) and §1910.147(c)(4)(ii), that you addressed. However, the Kentucky standard requires the use of lockout in all cases in which the energy isolating device is capable of being locked out. Kentucky's LOTO standard can be found on the Kentucky Department of Labor website at:

If you would like more information about Kentucky's LOTO standard or Kentucky's interpretation of the specific sections of the standard, you may contact the Kentucky Department of Labor directly at:
Phillip J. Anderson, Commissioner
Kentucky Department of Labor
1047 U.S. Highway 127 South, Suite 4
Frankfort, KY 40601
Phone: (502) 564-3070
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. 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
http://www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of General Industry Enforcement at (202) 693-1850.


Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs

1 If all eight elements specified in the paragraph §1910.147(c)(4)(i) exception exist, the procedure need not be documented for a specific machine or piece of equipment. The exception is intended to apply to situations in which the LOTO process does not involve detailed interactions of energy sources, machines/equipment, and employees. However, this provision exempts only the documentation requirement; it does not relieve an employer of the obligation to develop and utilize energy control procedures.
[ back to text ]

2 For example, some employers do not utilize tagout devices, negating the need for full employee protection when energy isolating devices are capable of being locked out, or they may not undertake multi-shift servicing or maintenance operations. In such cases, inclusion of these LOTO provisions into a procedure would not be appropriate or required. [ back to text ]

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.

Standard Interpretations - (Archived) Table of Contents

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