Standardizing lockout/tagout procedures in industrial facilities improves compliance with OSHA regulations and prevents injuries around hazardous equipment. Training staff on the steps for locking and tagging equipment and machinery helps meet warehouse safety goals and satisfy OSHA standards, but that’s not where your process should end. Use visual cues to organize essential tools and improve communication around hazards and de-energized equipment to create a strong lockout/tagout safety program.

What Is Lockout/Tagout?

Lockout/Tagout, also known as LOTO, is a system of controls meant to reduce risk due to hazardous energy—including electrical and physical force—from machinery and equipment. LOTO procedures help prevent injury or death from unexpected startup or energy discharge by ensuring that machinery or equipment that’s damaged or not currently in use is powered down or deenergized, or otherwise disabled or removed from use.

While shutting down a machine may only require physically pressing a stop button or cutting power to the equipment, LOTO procedures require more steps, such as isolating the machine from the power source, installing a lockout/tagout device such as a padlock or breaker lockout, and fastening a LOTO tag to the energy isolating device to provide clear notice to not restore energy, the reason why, and who issued the order.

OSHA Lockout/Tagout Requirements

OSHA requires employers to establish a LOTO system for disabling machines or equipment to prevent spontaneous startup during maintenance or repairs¹. LOTO procedures require first locking a control unit, circuit breaker, or valve, then tagging the lock. Visual cues labeling storage for padlock devices and warning tags help employees find what they need to complete the necessary steps for compliance.

Standardized Labels for Lockout Points

OSHA requires lockout devices to be standardized within the facility by color, shape, or size, and tagout tags must use uniform print and format¹. This consistency helps simplify communication to keep employees safe during non-routine tasks, such as repairing forklifts or conveyor belts. Whether the work is performed by regular employees or contractors, standardized, facility-wide communication makes identifying powered and de-energized equipment clear.

Markings for lockout points aren’t mandated by OSHA, but consistency helps maintenance workers efficiently locate and disable power sources. Safety labels for lockout points don’t need complicated numbering systems or codes—our black-and-red labels make shut-off valves and breakers easy to identify. New and overhauled equipment can sometimes be overlooked; add a step in your LOTO procedures to label all machines before they are issued to the production floor.

Floor Signs & Tape for Lockout/Tagout Stations

Organizing lockout/tagout stations using 5S methodologies keeps supplies accessible to authorized personnel. Applying a floor tape kit in front of a static LOTO board prevents employees from parking trolleys, equipment, and inventory there. Custom lockout/tagout signs and tape communicate any messages you need, such as Authorized LOTO Use Only or Do Not Block. Organize portable LOTO carts using L-shaped floor markers. And, number each cart location so it is obvious which station is in use in the factory or warehouse.

You may already use 5S holding areas to stage excess tools and defective equipment, and this concept can be applied to lockout/tagout procedures. While tags attached to disabled equipment warn employees against using it, isolating these items is another safety measure to prevent accidental use. Outline a holding area using hazard striped or repeat message floor tape with clear warnings. These markings improve forklift safety by preventing operators from assuming a parked machine is operable. Assembly line crew members and order pickers will be aware that hand trucks, conveyors, drills, and other tools staged there aren’t suitable for use. Floor signs marking locations as off-limits help restrict access to authorized personnel. Using clear visual cues to support locking and tagging procedures helps ensure steps aren’t missed. 

If safety around locked-out and tagged equipment is an issue, look for LOTO signs and labels to help organize facility safety near equipment hazards. Our floor signs and tape strengthen communication in any high-risk area to prevent accidents, injuries, and downtime. For more examples of visual cues in action, visit our Resouce Center.