Scenario: You have been hired as the new safety manager for a machine shop operation. During the first few weeks, you are out on the plant floor with the maintenance manager reviewing the company’s energy control program. You observe a maintenance person perform some servicing work on a piece of machinery. You notice the lock he applies to the energy isolating device is a combination lock and not a keyed lock. You ask the maintenance manager about this. To your surprise, he states that all their lockout locks are a combination lock and the previous safety manager had no problem with this and in fact supported the practice.
Question: Is the maintenance manager correct in his belief that a combination lock is acceptable for lockout/tagout? Or, is the company going to need to replace all the combination locks with keyed type locks and train all the employees about this change?
Answer: If you read the definitions in 1910.147 (b), you will see the following: Lockout device. A device that utilizes a positive means such as a lock, either key or combination type, to hold an energy isolating device in the safe position and prevent the energizing of a machine or equipment. Included are blank flanges and bolted slip blinds.
So why would you want to use a combination lock vs. a keyed lock? One benefit of using a combination lock is that you don’t have to worry about losing the key for the lock. Also less challenge of having to carry more keys.
Further thoughts: Just like keyed locks, only one person should be able to open the lock. Which means only one person should know the combination to that lock and that is the owner of that lock.
Can you use Lockout Locks for other purposes?