Q & A: Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO) Exceptions

Q & A: Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO) Exceptions

Question: “What alternative control methods are permissible related to the OSHA exception rule in LOTO standard?”

Answer: While Jill & Todd (our in-house safety professionals) both had a crack at answering your question, we were moving pretty fast, and I think we left that one behind mostly unexplored. So I got into the federal regulation today: 29 CFR 1910.147

First thing I looked for were exceptions…


An employee is required to place any part of his or her body into an area on a machine or piece of equipment where work is actually performed upon the material being processed (point of operation) or where an associated danger zone exists during a machine operating cycle.

Note: Exception to paragraph (a)(2)(ii): Minor tool changes and adjustments, and other minor servicing activities, which take place during normal production operations, are not covered by this standard if they are routine, repetitive, and integral to the use of the equipment for production, provided that the work is performed using alternative measures which provide effective protection (See Subpart O of this Part).


This standard does not apply to the following:


Work on cord and plug connected electric equipment for which exposure to the hazards of unexpected energization or start up of the equipment is controlled by the unplugging of the equipment from the energy source and by the plug being under the exclusive control of the employee performing the servicing or maintenance.


Procedures shall be developed, documented and utilized for the control of potentially hazardous energy when employees are engaged in the activities covered by this section.

Note: Exception: The employer need not document the required procedure for a particular machine or equipment, when all of the following elements exist: (1) The machine or equipment has no potential for stored or residual energy or reaccumulation of stored energy after shut down which could endanger employees; (2) the machine or equipment has a single energy source which can be readily identified and isolated; (3) the isolation and locking out of that energy source will completely deenergize and deactivate the machine or equipment; (4) the machine or equipment is isolated from that energy source and locked out during servicing or maintenance; (5) a single lockout device will achieve a locked-out condition; (6) the lockout device is under the exclusive control of the authorized employee performing the servicing or maintenance; (7) the servicing or maintenance does not create hazards for other employees; and (8) the employer, in utilizing this exception, has had no accidents involving the unexpected activation or reenergization of the machine or equipment during servicing or maintenance.

That’s ‘all she wrote’ for explicit exceptions in the standard, so I cannot say definitively that there are any acceptable “alternative control methods”—maybe you can educate me here?

You might be interested in this Supervisor Safety Tip from Jill James covering LOTO…

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