Safety Tag

Uses of tags in industry

Accident prevention tags are mandatory for any industrial business concern where employees are exposed to potentially hazardous energy. These tags will help prevent accidents before they happen. "Do not operate" tags for equipment and machinery being serviced act as warnings that can save life and limb. Other common warning tags include "Pinch point keep hands and fingers away," "Do not open valve," "Do not operate," "Do not start," "Unsafe do not use," and "Defective equipment."


OSHA identifies certain work environments as sources of multiple energy by way of interconnected or nearby equipment that require multiple points of control. Manufacturing plants will often reveal circumstances with manifold sources of energy — mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, and/or thermal — at a single point of operation, all of which must be controlled in an energy shutdown.

There may be multiple electrical sources to be aware of as well as pneumatic energy to bleed-off, requiring tags of several kinds, like electrical, pneumatic and mechanical. At several points along the route to disabling a piece of manufacturing equipment, tags may have to be installed for several forms of energy. Often it is the mere proximity of other pieces of equipment or machinery that can create an additional hazard to the one at hand. .

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends the following three-step procedure for avoiding oversight of a source of hazardous energy. These steps are intended for manufacturing situations.

1. De-energize all sources of hazardous energy:

    • Disconnect or shut down engines or motors
    • De-energize electrical circuits
    • Block fluid (gas or liquid) flow in hydraulic or pneumatic systems
    • Block machine parts against motion

2. Lockout and tagout all forms of hazardous energy, including electrical breaker panels and control valves.

3. Block or dissipate stored energy:

    • Discharge capacitors
    • Release or block springs that are under compression or tension
    • Vent fluids from pressure vessels, tanks, or accumulators, but never vent toxic, flammable, or explosive substances directly into the atmosphere
The construction industry has its own requirements when it comes to the control of hazardous energy because of the range of heavy machinery, equipment, power tools, scaffolding, welding machines and other sources of potential injury.

The construction industry also spans the spectrum of hazardous energy sources: electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical and thermal.

Because of the nature of construction operations, with workplaces in constant flux and continuous alterations of each worksite, their challenges are unique.

The procedures, are similar to any other workplace situation. The difference in the construction industry has to do with their particular workplace conditions. A high flow of new personnel throughout the jobsite means the tags must be clearly labeled and highly visible (and possibly in more than one language), and they must be durable to withstand outside elements and debris.

OSHA recommends the following procedures specifically for construction tagout:

Tagout devices and means of attachment:

    • Must be sufficient to prevent inadvertent or accidental removal
    • Attachment means must be a non-reusable type; attached by hand; self-locking; non-releasable with minimum unlocking strength no less than 50 pounds; at least equivalent in design and characteristics to one-piece, all-environment-tolerant nylon cable tie; and if used with electrical energy, the attachment mechanism must be non-conductive.


    • Tags must warn against hazardous conditions that may occur if machine or equipment will be, or is, energized
    • Sample warnings include "Do not start,” "Do not close,” "Do not energize,” or "Do not operate"

Tags require proper training. Employees should be reminded of the following:

    • Tags are warning devices, not physical restraints
    • Tags should not be removed without authorization; and no one should bypass, ignore, or otherwise defeat a tag
    • Tags must be legible and understandable
    • Tags and means of attachment must be made of materials that will withstand workplace environmental conditions
    • Tags may evoke a false security, employees should be trained to understand their meaning (and limitations)
    • Tags should be securely attached to energy isolating devices
Both manufacturing and construction industries would benefit from equipment tags with data fields for maintenance records, preventive maintenance, safety inspection and inspection recording fields that allow timely and critical information to be posted with the warning.
LOTO (Lockout/Tagout)
If lockout/tagout (LOTO) is a familiar phrase at your company, try a roll of tags — it's price-effective and easy.
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