Lockout Tagout – Is there an exception?

Lockout Tagout

By Alex Baker – Spectrum Industrial

Lockout Tagout Tryout (LOTOTO)

When do we need to isolate and lockout and when don’t we? What are the exceptions to the rule? And how do you guarantee your own safety?

Lockout Tagout is becoming more and more pertinent and accepted as best practice in a wider range of industries across the world. America’s health and safety sectors are adopting the procedure early, paving the way for others to follow and in some countries, it is being made a law.


Car Seals Launched

Safety Solutions manufacturer and provider Spectrum Industrial have announced the launch of Car Seals to their safety products category.

Car Seal

Car Seals are a simple solution used to lock a device in an open or closed position as required, preventing unauthorised operation and providing long-term isolation. Commonly used on valves, Car Seals provide additional security as the sealed apparatus can only be operated by cutting the galvanised steel cable of the Car Seal, which in turn also provides evidence if it has been tampered with or of activity by an authorised operative. Due to this Car Seals are a single use item.




As a safety signage and products brand, what opportunities do you see within the construction industry?


Anthony Garlick, General Manager, Spectrum Industrial: Although massive advances in safety have been made within the construction industry, it is still statistically one of the most dangerous industries to work in within the UK (the most dangerous for fatalities).  Equipment and correct training can prevent many accidents, but we see safety signs as an integral part of creating a safe site and a safe place to work by highlighting hazards and reinforcing safety messages.


How do Spectrum’s wide selection of products meet the requirements for this industry?


Anthony Garlick; All our products comply to the very latest signage standards (ISO EN 7010) to ensure consistency of message. In addition, our products are manufactured using weather-resistant materials and UV resistant inks, proving a product that will last in these demanding environments.

What are the major trends you are seeing in the marketplace?


Peter Clayton, Head of Sales Spectrum Industrial; We have been seeing an increased demand in large site-specific notice boards, which provide the site with a single point of access for the essential documentation required for all modern sites. In addition, we have seen increased emphasis on companies wishing to brand all their safety signage with their own company logo – not only providing an essential safety message but also reinforcing their company brand throughout the site.


Which channels within construction show the most development?


Peter Clayton; Two of the growing sectors within plant and equipment industry are quarrying and recycling.  I think the general acceptance that more stringent safety standards are required push the quarrying side, whereas the massive growth in the recycling industries and the associated plant equipment has pushed sign sales there.

Why has Spectrum chosen to attend Plantworx?

Paul Kantecki, Managing Director; The show is recognised as being one of the leading plant & construction shows within the UK, and as such we felt it imperative that we attend to present our company and brand to the industry. Our product range and service lend itself perfectly to this market.



Safety Signage and Products manufacturer Spectrum Industrial will be exhibiting at Plantworx 2019, held at the East of England Arena, Peterborough, 11th – 13th June.

Plantworx is the UK’s dedicated working construction event with a huge product showcase for worldwide construction equipment manufacturers and is expecting over 20,000 visitors to the event this year.

Spectrum Industrial will be demonstrating a wide selection of their product portfolio of Health and Safety Signs, Lockout Tagout and inspection monitoring products including Scaffolding Tags and Ladder Safety.

Paul Kantecki, MD Spectrum Industrial said, “We are looking forward to exhibiting at the Plantworx event this year.  At Spectrum we have been manufacturing and providing businesses with solutions to help identify, manage and reduce safety risks and hazards for over 20 years. We hold one of the largest manufacturing capabilities in the UK for both signs and safety products and offer an extensive product range and our state-of-the-art design and manufacturing service enables us to offer bespoke signage”.

As well as the wide selection of products Spectrum Industrial will be showcasing, they will also provide advice on a number of services they can also offer their customers. Paul continues, “ We pride ourselves on being experts within the industry so that we can also help businesses who need advice and support, by providing Site Safety Surveys, Product Training and offering our Mobile Training Unit free of charge to our customers for exhibition, events, training and open days, enables us to offer a solution based service as well as quality products”.

Spectrum Industrial will be on Stand Number PA21.


Lockout Tagout Regulations in the UK

Lockout Tagout Regulations in the UK

What is Lockout Tagout?

Lockout Tagout is a safety process defined as the act of turning on/off machinery and tools, locking it in its current state with a Lockout Device and/or Safety Lockout Padlock so it is unusable in order for maintenance or repair to commence.

Lockout Tagout Process Simplified: 

  1. Ensure all machinery (which is to be locked out) is motionless, turn the valve/switch on/off or pull the plug out (removing the key source of power to the machine/pipework that we are locking off).
  2. Select an appropriate LOTO device. Different Lockout devices are used for different types of energy sources. (see below for more information on energy sources and what Lockout Tagout devices are best used for what energy).
  3. Close the Lockout Tagout device and lock it shut with a Safety Lockout Padlock (with the valve/handle/plug inside). It is best practice to also include a LOTO Tag to highlight the reason for the machine stoppage.

There are a lot of benefits to using Lockout Tagout Devices, not only is it a simple procedure to implement to ensure employee and contractor safety, it has some key benefits for your company’s efficiency and profitability.

5 benefits of using Lockout Tagout 

  1. Less downtime* (machinery and labour)
  2. Reduced accidents
  3. Reduced fatalities
  4. Higher productivity
  5. Lower indirect costs (sick pay etc)

*Downtime in this instance represents the time spent by the machine or employee when production has come to a halt due to machine maintenance or repair.

Lockout Tagout (LOTO) is currently in its growth period in the UK, with the process being widely used in the USA, Canada and parts of Europe. It is a growing market, for Health and Safety, Manufacturing, Industrial Services and much more.

In the USA and Canada they use OSHA standards to keep businesses compliant. Using the ‘Control of Hazardous Energy’ Regulation, which states Lockout Tagout to be a must do when it comes to employee safety.

The  1910.147(a)(1)(i) covers the servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment in which the unexpected energization or start up of the machines or equipment, or release of stored energy, could harm employees. This standard establishes minimum performance requirements for the control of such hazardous energy.



Whereas in the UK, the main regulation within the manufacturing industry is PUWER.

PUWER stands for the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (1999 in Northern Ireland). The regulations deal with the work equipment and machinery used every day in workplaces and aims to keep people safe wherever equipment and machinery is used at work.


This in its essence means that employers should make all machinery safe for use, including precautions such as extra Guards and safer PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). Machinery should also be inspected at regular intervals to ensure it is in a continued ‘safe to use’ state. The UK also looks to businesses to adhere to the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER). This acts as an acknowledgement that businesses with lifting equipment should inspect the lifting machinery regularly. []. This can be completed through a series of Tagging Systems specially designed to be used in conjunction with machinery labeled as those described as a lifting accessory. Tagging Systems are made up of holders and inserts, the holders are to be fixed to the machinery/tools and the inserts filled in and placed inside of the holder with the inspection details showing. (Click here for more information on Tagging Systems).

There are citations within the PUWER regulations that argue the use of safety devices such as Lockout Tagout, however at no point do the regulations state this outright. But it does explain that ‘lockout devices’ should be used to enhance the safety of employees. So, it may not be written in black and white under English Regulations that Lockout Tagout should be used but the document does mention a ‘Hierarchy of measures’ for standardising safety procedures that are Lockout Tagout related but they are explained as a permanent fixture to any machine or tool. For instance one of the three measures mentioned is to ‘provide protection appliances (jigs, holders, push sticks)’. And as a wider assumption this could include LOTO devices but it doesn’t specifically say that in the regulation. This part of the regulation is more about ensuring that the day to day workplace risks are assessed properly and thoroughly. However in the same set of regulations, it states that employers should ensure that all work equipment is accompanied by an appropriate way to isolate power/energy. Including an appropriate set of actions (and facilities) to turn the power back on without creating a potential hazard for other employees. []. This is more aligned with the American OSHA guidelines and practices and defines that the Lockout Tagout Safety movement is on the rise in the UK.

PUWER EU Regulation

For our neighbors in the EU, the guidelines are also OSHA based and therefore pick up on American characteristics in its legislation, but it is 89/655 paragraph 2.14 that states that:

every piece of equipment must be fitted with clearly visible devices with which it can be separated from every energy source

This indicates that all workplace machinery should be fitted with permanent LOTO solutions for easy and safe Lockout Tagout procedures. The EU Regulations are similar to PUWER in that both are concentrated on what the employer can do to ensure the safety of their staff.

I believe that it is only a matter of time before the process of Lockout Tagout including its relevant devices become a mainstream practice within the UK and written into UK Legislation.

Although the act of Lockout Tagout is presented to be best practice throughout many industries and is currently not enforced in the UK there are alot of people within the UK being educated in the ways of Lockout Tagout Procedure. The challenge now is to ensure that people are selecting the appropriate Lockout Tagout Device for their machines and/or tools.

Energy sources and their matching Lockout Tagout Devices

Lockout Tagout Devices are generally manufactured specifically for certain types of energy, to lock out certain types of valves, switches and MCB panels etc. For instance we stock a Gas Cylinder Lockout, designed to fit the top of a Gas Canister to restrict unauthorised usage. Whereas our Cable Lockouts can be used across multiple energy sources including being used alongside other Lockout devices.

Energy Sources VS Lockout Tagout Devices: 

Electrical Lockout Electrical Energy – Commonly found powering nearly all workplace equipment and charging tools. Electrical Lockout Devices range from Dielectric Padlocks, Dielectric Hasps, MCB Lockouts, Electrical Panel Lockouts, Fuse Lockouts and Plug Lockouts.
Hydraulic Lockout Hydraulic Energy – Found powering Forklifts, cutting equipment and pumps. Hydraulic Lockout Devices are generally described as Steering Wheel Cover Lockouts, Plug Lockouts and Gate Valve Lockouts.
Mechanical Lockout Mechanical Energy – Can be found powering machinery with moving parts. For instance the following can be used – Cable Lockouts, Emergency Stop Lockouts and Plug and Hoist Cover Lockout.
Thermal Lockout Thermal Energy – Found in Fridges, Microwaves, freezers, ovens etc. Thermal energy is mainly created by Electricity and therefore the Lockout Devices used for locking off thermal energy are devices such as Plug Lockout, Pin and Sleeve Lockout and Cylinder Lockout.
Pneumatic Lockout Pneumatic Energy – Most commonly found powering machinery via compressed air or gas. A stainless steel scissor Pneumatic Lockout System allows the Pneumatic hose to be fitted inside the device to restrict its usage. A Plug Lockout works in the same way by enclosing the hose and/or nozzle inside, again restricting its usage.
Potential Lockout Potential/Kinetic Energy – Generally found in compressed strings, suspended weights and inside larger machinery. The safest way to Lockout machines that have stored energy is to allow them to come to a complete stop before unplugging or switching the machine. Then using blocks and Lockout devices such as a Plug Lockout or Push Button Lockout you can ensure that re-energisation is prevented.

What is a Lockout Tagout procedure?

A Lockout Procedure is a process that each piece of machinery is put through during routine maintenance and/or repairs. Not all procedures are the same due to the huge variations in machinery and operating environment. Therefore Lockout Tagout Procedures are often custom written specifically per business premises. There are companies that will visit your premises and write up a LOTO Procedure for you (at a cost) but the process is fairly straightforward.

Procedure basics:

  1. Evaluate and Plan – Start by describing all processes currently in place and those are  required by law for a successful hazardous energy control programme.Try to describe responsibilities, training, isolation procedures and restoring equipment to normal operation, contractor control, LOTO products, permits to work, etc.
  2. Equipment Appraisal – Identify all equipment requiring energy isolation during maintenance, cleaning or repair activities. For each item of equipment, gather details of associated energies, isolation points (valves, switches, breakers etc), and the sequence of isolation.  Consider environmental factors such as confined spaces, adjacent activities and any essential equipment adaptations. Consider mechanical valves and/or LSS (Life Safety Systems) that are required to remain ON for safety purposes during these activities. Specific “On State” isolation must be included as required and possible downstream effects of same must be risk assessed and documented.
  3. Equipment Specific Procedures – Use equipment appraisal information to develop equipment specific procedures. This activity also helps define lockout product requirements for each item of equipment or work area. Once proven through testing, equipment specific procedures should be posted alongside the equipment.
  4. Training, Procedure Awareness & Lockout Tagout products – Equip authorised employees with the relevant lockout products and tags as detailed in the audit. For safety reasons, only products specifically designed for implementation Lockout Tagout procedures should be used.
  5. Implementation – A new lockout programme involves a workforce having to think and work in a new way, posing a challenge in terms of changing safety culture and mindset.  Leadership participation and backing is therefore crucial during planning and implementation stages.  Monitor behaviors, listen to the workforce and adapt the programme to ensure it is embraced successfully and exceed corporate and legal requirements.

In conclusion, the above regulations state that employers are responsible for providing the correct procedure for shutting/starting up any workplace machinery, as well as providing safety barriers between the machine and the employee (for example – more guards and permanent Lockout Tagout Devices). In the UK it is not a legal obligation to install Lockout Tagout equipment into the workplace. However it is now seen as best practice across many industries and is known to reduce the amount of accidents, injuries and fatalities.

Contact us for more information on Lockout Tagout, Procedure writing and Tagging Systems.


Provision and use of work equipment regulations 1998 :

Who is responsible? - Risk assessments & Health and safety

Who is responsible? – Risk Assessments & Health and Safety Policy

Daily hazards are normal, but as employers and business owners we should work to protect our employee’s in the workplace from harm. The Health and Safety Laws are in place to protect your business and employees from dangers that could be easily avoided.

At its simplest – if you are an employer or if you are self-employed, then you are the person responsible for the Risk Assessment and Health and Safety Policy within the business. This makes you the competent person (See more on being the competent person here).

Where can I get reliable risk assessment templates?

If you are an employer and you have more than 5 employees you should (best practice) have a written Risk Assessment and Health and Safety Policy. According to the HSE “A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace.” The HSE usefully provides a free downloadable Risk Assement template which includes a basic Health and Safety Policy document. This shows you what to consider whilst writing your polices and helps you to question what is needed to make your workplace safer (Download it or view it here) and accidents and injuries avoidable.

HSE recently published a case study about a young person who was run over by a forklift truck, the forklift truck was being driven by someone who was untrained and unauthorised. This led the company to be prosecuted under the Health and Safety at Work Act and fined a total of over 10k (read the full article here). This is a clear example of someone not considering their responsibility to their employees and themselves to provide a safe working environment. Leaving them without any grounds to fight the ‘inadequate supervision’ claimed by the prosecution. 

How Can Spectrum Industrial Help?

A Safety Site Survey from Spectrum Industrial can help you analyse your current workplace safety system and advise you further on any other potential hazards or dangers. During a Safety Site Survey we look at your current signage, fire exits, extinguishers, walkways, racking, forklift trucks, machinery, roads, paths and then we look at the overall. (If you would like more information or to book a Safety Site Survey email us at or call us on 01302 800 273).

Further Reading:

Get competent advice (
HSE leaflet: Getting specialist help with health and safety (


Firm hit with £32,000 fine after injury

On April 28th 2018, workers at the Shop Direct Distribution Centre, employed by Logistex Limited carried out refurbishment works on the Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) when an accident occurred.

Workers had activated the emergency stop circuit, presuming this would prevent the machinery from operating. They then proceeded to replace sensors on the lift part of the equipment which weighed around 800kg.

The the control panel was switched on which caused the lift to drop. A worked trapped his foot between the lift and the frame of the truck he was standing on.

Emergency services were called out to the incident and fire and rescue service released him from beneath the lift. His injuries were so severe that his second and third toes had to be cut back to the knuckle. His other three toes required exploitative surgery to identify damage.

Oldham Council investigated the matter and found that refurbishment work had been inadequately planned and risk assessed. In particular it identified that work was being carried out whilst it still had power and had not been correctly isolated or locked out.

Oldham Council prosecuted the firm under Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and Regulation 3(1) (a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Logistex Limited pleaded guilty to the two charges and was fined £12,000 for each offence, plus costs of over £8,000. An additional Victim surcharge of £170 was also added.

Proactive Implementation of Health and Safety Guidelines

This case highlights the need for electrical machinery to be correctly isolated and powered down. If correct procedures had been in place and followed, the likelihood of such an incident would be greatly reduced.

Had an in-depth risk assessment had taken place, it would have identified the need for Lockout procedures and equipment to have been used. Energising switches that could be accessed and operated caused the equipment to become unexpectedly re-energised whilst it was being worked on.

Lockout and Tagging Supplies

In reality, the pieces of Lockout and Tagging equipment needed to effectively lockout the control panel may have only cost a few pounds. There will be a cost Companies may be reluctant to go through risk assessment procedures as they may be seen as a waste of time. Especially when down time on machines reduces productivity.

Spectrum Industrial supply a wide range of both Electrical and Mechanical Lockout equipment. Simple to use, with the right guidelines put into place, Lockout equipment can avoid injuries, accidents and helps save lives.

Safety Site Surveys

We also offer Site Surveys where we can help identify any potential hazards and help companies put procedures and guidelines in place to avoid such accidents.

Find out more about our Safety Site Surveys here.

Unauthorised Scaffolding Access

Unauthorised Scaffolding Access

HSE issues Safety Alert during School holidays on the dangers of Unauthorised Scaffold Access.

The UK has seen a heatwave in the lead up to school summer holidays and we have another heatwave due. The Health & Safety Executive issued a safety alert advising those in control of construction work involving scaffolding and ladders to ensure appropriate measures are put in place to stop members of the public, and especially young people, from climbing scaffolding and ladders. Scaffold Safety Signs are an ideal method to alert the public to the dangers of unauthorised scaffold access.

Scaffolding can look like a tempting playground to young people who have time on their hands during the school holidays. Unfortunately unauthorised access can have serious consequences and results in a fall from height are not uncommon.

Site safety signs play an important role in alerting members of the public to dangers on construction sites. Spectrum Industrial design, manufacture and supply a comprehensive range of Safety Signs.

Take a look at our Safety Signs here.

To see the HSE alert visit their website here.

We also offer Custom Signs. We can incorporate any graphics and text you may need and we have the capability to print on a wide range of materials at any size.

To find out more about our Custom Signs, please call us on: 01302 800273

Unauthorised Scaffold Access

Unauthorised scaffold access safety signs can be placed around scaffolding on construction sites, building sites, or in none commercial environments such as when scaffolding is placed around homes for roof repairs etc. It’s common that scaffolding erected in more public places, such as those placed around homes undergoing repair do not carry safety signs.