As an employer, it is your responsibility under section 25 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act to protect the health or safety of your workers. On a farming operation, this would include providing information, instruction and supervision to your workers on proper lockout procedures for each piece of equipment they will be operating.

Workers servicing farm equipment must not clean, unplug, lubricate, adjust or repair any machine while it is running, unless it is specifically recommended in the service or owner's manual.

Lockout is essential to prevent injury due to contact with energy in any form. There are many types of potentially hazardous energy including:

  • electrical
  • thermal
  • chemical
  • pneumatic
  • hydraulic
  • mechanical
  • gravitational

Your supervisors and workers should follow accepted lockout principles when locking out equipment, including:


It is your responsibility as an employer to conduct an initial review to determine which switches, valves, or other energy isolating devices apply when locking out equipment.

An energy isolating device is a disconnect switch, circuit breaker, manually operated valve, blind flange, or other device used to ensure that power or energy cannot flow to a piece of machinery or equipment.

Locking out equipment may involve more than one energy source (electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal and gravitational). You should ensure that workers know which energy sources may need to be controlled.

Prepare a written sequence in checklist form for equipment access, lockout/tagout, clearance, release and start-up, where lockout is complex.

Your workers should check with a supervisor or other knowledgeable person if in doubt about which energy sources may need to be controlled.

Anyone planning to lock out equipment will need to notify all affected workers that a lockout is required and the reason for the lockout.

Shutdown and isolation of machines or equipment

If the equipment is operating, shut it down by the normal stopping procedure (depress stop button, open toggle switch, etc.).

To shut down and isolate equipment, those knowledgeable in the operation of the specific equipment should:

  • operate the energy-isolating device(s) to disconnect or isolate all energy sources (electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, etc.) from the equipment
  • never pull electrical disconnect switches while under load, because of the possibility of arcing or even explosion
  • release, disconnect or restrain stored energy, such as that in capacitors, springs, elevated machine parts, rotating flywheels, hydraulic systems and air, gas, steam or water pressure, by methods such as grounding, repositioning, blocking or bleeding-down

Pulling fuses is not a substitute for locking out. A pulled fuse is no guarantee the circuit is dead. Even if a circuit is dead, another person could replace the fuse.

Equipment that operates intermittently, such as a pump, blower, fan or compressor may seem harmless when it is not running. Do not assume that because equipment is not operating, it will remain off for the duration of any work performed.

Hydraulic systems

Your workers should always follow instructions in the operator's manual for servicing hydraulic systems.

Where appropriate, a properly qualified and certified mechanic should perform repairs and maintenance. Workers should:

  • shut off the engine that powers the hydraulic pump
  • lower the implement to the ground or onto a solid support
  • move the hydraulic lever back and forth several times to relieve pressure
  • use blanking devices when applicable
  • engage safety locks if the hydraulic cylinders are equipped with them

Application of lockout and tagout

Lock out and tag the energy-isolating device with an assigned, individual lock. Your workers will not be protected unless they use their own padlock.

If more than one worker is working on the same piece of equipment at the same time, each one should lock out the equipment, by placing a personal lock and tag on the group lockout device when they begin work, and should remove those devices when they stop working on the machine or equipment.

Locks and tags should clearly show the name of the person who applied the device, the date and the reason for the lockout. This identifies who is servicing the machinery or equipment. In a multiple lockout and tagout situation, it will also identify any worker or workers who may not have finished working.

Locks and tags must be durable enough to withstand the environment. Information on the locks and tags should remain legible.

Locks must be substantial enough to prevent removal without the use of excessive force. Tags must be substantial enough to prevent accidental or inadvertent removal.

Standardize both locks and tags by colour, shape or size. Tags should be easily recognized and provide appropriate information about the lockout.

For some equipment, to apply locks it may be necessary to construct attachments. An example is a common hasp to cover an operating button. Workers must attach tags to the energy isolating device(s) and to the normal operating control in such a manner as to prevent operation during the lockout.

If equipment to be locked out has an ignition, put a warning sign over the ignition that tells everyone that you are working on it.

Verification of isolation

After confirming that no workers can be injured, operate the push button or other normal controls to verify that all energy sources have been disconnected and the equipment will not operate.

If there is a possibility of stored energy building up again, workers must periodically verify isolation of the equipment until the maintenance or repair is completed, or until the possibility of such build-up no longer exists.

Return operating controls to neutral position after the test. A check of system activation (e.g. use of voltmeter for electrical circuits) should be performed to ensure isolation.

The equipment is now locked out.

Interruption of lockout and tagout

If a machine is locked and tagged and there is a need for testing or positioning of the equipment or process, take the following steps:

  1. Clear the equipment or process of tools and materials.
  2. Ensure workers are a safe distance from any potential hazard.
  3. Remove locks and tags according to your established procedure.
  4. Proceed with the test.
  5. De-energize all systems and re-lock and re-tag the controls before resuming work.

Release from lockout and tagout

When removing locks and tags and restoring energy to the machine or equipment, workers who locked out and tagged equipment should:

  • inspect the work area to ensure that non-essential items have been removed and that machine or equipment components are operationally intact
  • make sure workers are a safe distance from any potential hazard
  • remove only their own lock and tag from each energy-isolating device
  • notify affected workers that locks and tags have been removed