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What is Lockout Tagout?
Electrical Lockout tagout is a safety procedure used when work needs to be done on electrical wiring or equipment. Of course the circuit breaker needs to be shut off first. But what if someone turns the breaker on while work on the wiring is still in progress? The purpose of a lockout tagout device is to prevent that from happening. All lockout tagouts have some things in common. The lockout is installed and a lock is placed on it. Only the electrician doing the work should have the key. A tagout is then placed onto the lock to notify everyone that work on circuit wiring is being done. The tag warns them not to tamper with the device. The tag should have the date and contact information of the electrician performing the work. Every electrician must use some lockout tagout device when working on live circuit wiring. OSHA mandates the use of lockout tagout. Electrical Lockout tagout can save lives
Why use the Electrical Panel Lockout instead of circuit breaker lockouts?
- The Panel Lockout is much sturdier and secure than those small, red, circuit breaker lockouts, which can fall off or easily be removed.
- To use circuit breaker lockouts you must have many different sizes to fit different types of circuit breakers. The Panel Lockout can be used on any panel cover with screws, and with our new clips, on most panel covers without screws. It doesn’t matter what type of circuit breakers are in the panel.
- The panel door can not be closed when circuit breaker lockouts are installed. The circuit breaker lockout can be accidentally removed when others have access to the panel. The door is always closed and locked with the Panel Lockout.
- Several circuit breakers are easily be locked out with the Panel Lockout with only one padlock.
- When installing a circuit breaker lockout there is a danger of accidentally turning off an adjacent breaker. The Panel Lockout is installed outside the panel so there is no chance of accidentally disturbing an active circuit breaker.
What are other advantages of using the Panel Lockout?
The Panel Lockout is a time saving tool in new construction. During construction, we often wait until the last minute to terminate wiring onto live panels in order to keep the wires dead as long as possible. Panel trims and covers aren’t installed until the wires are terminated. With the Panel Lockout, as soon as wires are installed they can be terminated to prevent damage or theft. Then the panel trims and covers can be installed and locked out with the Panel Lockout. It eliminates searching for misplaced panel covers at the end of the job and scrambling to terminate panels at the end of the project.
The Panel Lockout is only 13 inches long, when retracted, and weighs only a few ounces. It fits in a toolbag and can be used on most electrical panels. With the two available extensions, the Panel Lockout can be used on panels from 14 inches to 37 inches wide. The cost of a Panel Lockout is only a fraction other lockout/tagout systems.
What are the uses for the Steel Panel Lockout?
We also fabricate a Steel Panel Lockout. This Panel Lockout can help stop vandalism and theft in electrical panels and pull boxes. They are effective on temporary light and power panels or where vandals may try to forcibly enter the panel. They are 16 inches long when retracted and fit panels or pull boxes from 17 inches to 27 inches wide. Custom sizes are available upon request.
The Steel Panel Lockout is designed to keep vandals from entering an electrical panel or a junction box. With the high price of copper, wire theft has been increasing on construction projects. Theft not only results in a loss of the value of the wire, but also the cost of re-installing it. By using our Steel Panel Lockout to lock panels and junction boxes before the power is turned on, thieves will have a difficult time trying to steal the wire.
The Steel Panel Lockout is also good for temporary light and power panels on construction jobs. These are panels that should be accessed only by the electrician and can be kept on the panel at all times. Steel Panel Lockouts can be used on panels 17 inches to 27 inches wide. Custom sizes are available.
The Steel Panel Lockouts should not be used near exposed live bus or live wires.
Can the Panel Lockout be used on panels that don’t have exposed screws?
Our “Clips for Panels without Screws” will work on most panels. You can see them in out web store. Clips for panels without screws
Click on the photos for close-ups.
The clips will not work on panel covers that wrap around the back box. For those types of panels you will need to install two screws as follows:
Drill two holes with a # 7 drill bit in the panel backbox edges (at arrows, see photo below). Tap the holes with a 1/4-20 tap. Then drill two corresponding 5/16 inch holes in the panel cover. Install two 1/4-20 panel screws (truss head) through the panel cover into the panel backbox. Then, the Panel Lockout can be used with the standard instructions. When the Panel Lockout is not in use, the two panel screws can remain installed and do not detract from the appearance of the panel.
An easy method to perform the above screw installation is:
1. Remove the panel cover and make sure there are no wires where you will be drilling. Replace the panel cover.
2. Drill through both the panel cover and the panel backbox at panel edge (at arrows, see photo) with a # 7 drill bit. Remove the panel cover.
3. Enlarge the two holes in the panel cover with a 5/16 drill bit. Tap the two holes in the panel backbox with a 1/4-20 tap.
4. Replace the panel cover and screw in the two panel screws.
Can an electrical panel door be locked if tenants may need access to the panel?
CFR 29 1910
[230.70(A)(1)]. In a multiple-occupancy building, each occupant must have access to the service disconnecting means [230.72(C)]. However, if electrical maintenance is provided by continuous building management, the service disconnecting means can be accessible only to building management personnel.
Comment——–The electrician (hired through the building management) is an agent of the building management and is authorized to control access. It is common for a tenant that needs access to a panel to call the building for access. In this case, the electrician’s contact information is on the tagout so access can be gained. The electrician would supervise any access so the circuit breakers he is working on do not get turned on.
The following is a letter ruling from OSHA regarding locking an electrical panel:
October 24, 2005
Mr. Jimmy Hill
Safety and Mission Assurance Directorate
Industrial Safety Department
Marshall Space Flight Center
Huntsville, AL 35812
Dear Mr. Hill:
Thank you for your inquiry dated May 24, 2005, regarding clarification of the definition for “Readily accessible” as contained in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) electrical standards. This letter constitutes OSHA’s interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question not delineated within your original correspondence. We apologize for the delay in our response. Your paraphrased scenario, question, and our response are provided below.
Scenario: It is not a standard practice at the Marshall Space Flight Center to lock electrical panels operating at 600 volts or less, but a request has been received from our Facilities Department to place locks that require a key to open all electrical panels. Locking the panels is to control access by unauthorized employees. A majority of these panels are lighting panels operating at 277 volts and are located throughout the center in office buildings, shop areas, and testing facilities. The breakers in these electrical panels are not used by employees as switches to turn equipment on and off daily.
Question: Does locking the electrical panels operating at 600 volts or less (to control access by unauthorized employees) violate OSHA electrical requirements for not being “Readily accessible” in the event of an emergency?
Response: In accordance with 29 CFR 1910.399, Readily accessible is defined as “capable of being reached quickly for operation, renewal, or inspections, without requiring those to whom ready access is requisite to climb over or remove obstacles or to resort to portable ladders, chairs, etc.” This definition, however, does not preclude the use of a lock on the disconnecting means (circuit breakers panel), provided those, for whom ready access may be necessary, have a key (or lock combination) available. Additionally, the National Electrical Code (NEC) 2005, Article 110.26, partly states, “Enclosures housing electrical apparatus that are controlled by a lock(s) shall be considered accessible to qualified persons.” Please note that the use of multiple locks, which requires different keys or combinations, on disconnecting switches may preclude the installation from being accessible or readily accessible to a particular individual who is authorized to access the panel.
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. 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. 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 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
Has there been an independent study of various lockout tagout devices?
Yes. Some of the conclusions taken directly from the report are as follows:
- Several of these molded plastic lockout devices are too flimsy or do not clamp the breaker handles adequately, and can be easily removed with much less than the “excessive” force required by OSHA. As such, they fail to perform their intended function.
- Non-adjustable “universal” devices that utilize the handle holes are ineffective. The holes provide a pivot point which imparts a sliding action to the lockout device as the handle is moved. The cavity walls that surround the handles have excessive clearance which allows significant movement and in some cases operation of the breaker. In addition, these holes are highly variable between breaker types, and it does not appear that any molded plastic pin of that size could have the strength necessary to comply with the OSHA requirements for “substantial” devices. For these reasons, the use of side handle holes for lockout purposes should be abandoned.
- Multi-pole devices that capture the tie-bar without clamping, or single pole devices with large “universal” handle cavities, contain excessive handle clearances that can allow operation of breakers with the device installed.
Report done by B Miller Engineering