Toolbox Talk: Lockout/Tagout

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CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training

Summary Statement

The CPWR Toolbox Talk on Lockout/Tagout addresses the risks associated with unattended electrically-powered equipment injuring workers. The resource includes a ‘real-life’ case example, steps to prevent a related injury or illness, and questions for discussion. It includes an image (page 2) that illustrates the hazard, which can be posted in a central location as a reminder of steps to work safely.   Click on the following links to access the English version and the Spanish version. (English) (Español)

CPWR Toolbox Talk logoLockout/Tagout means protecting employees from equipment startup or energy release while they are working on or servicing machinery. The person working on the equipment disconnects it and locks it off until they are done. No one else has access to the lock. That way, no one else can turn it on and accidently injure someone. Dozens of construction workers are killed every year because they did not turn off equipment or lock it out before working on it. Most were electrocuted, but some workers were crushed or lost limbs.

Here is an Example

Luke was cleaning the unguarded side of an operating band saw. He was suddenly caught in the moving parts of the saw and pulled into a nip point between the blade and the idler wheel, resulting in fatal injuries. This accident was caused by the failure to shut down or turn off the equipment to perform maintenance.

  1. How could this have been avoided?
  2. Do you know anyone who has been injured while handling equipment they thought was turned off? If so, what happened?


  • Determine sources of energy that need to be locked out: electrical, mechanical, gravitational, thermal, hydraulic, pneumatic, and chemical.
  • Properly shut down equipment/machines.
    • Apply locks to electrical circuits so power can’t restart the machine.
    • Verbally notify all employees about the shutdown.
    • Test to see the machine is properly locked out by pushing the start button.
    • After the work is completed, notify all employees about the removal of locks and impending restart.

What Are We Going to Do Today?

What will we do here at the worksite today to properly demonstrate lockout/tagout techniques?








Graphic of a worker demonstrating proper lockout on an electrical grid as he maintains equipment.

    Apply locks to electrical circuits so power can't restart the machine.