Lockout/Tagout: Hazardous Energy Control

Circuit breaker in Physics Astronomy Building controlled with lock and tag.


When not properly controlled, hazardous energy represents a serious risk of injury or death for exposed workers. Uncontrolled energy during servicing and maintenance activities may result in the unexpected startup of machinery or equipment, or release of stored energy. Injuries may include lacerations, crushed or fractured body parts, amputations, cuts, burns, electrocution, or worse.

Hazardous energy must be eliminated, either by dissipation or by a physical control. Releasing steam, draining water, disconnecting and grounding electrical equipment are all ways of dissipating energy. However, potential energy may still be present, especially if there are movable parts. In such cases, physical means must be used to prevent movement and potential harm. These physical controls are generally known as Lockout/Tagout (LOTO).

** All lockout/tagout procedures must include BOTH a LOCK and a TAG. **

Hazardous Energy

Hazardous energy is defined as any energy source that can cause harm to people. For the purposes of this Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) policy, energy is any energy source used to power a system allowing it to perform work.

Hazardous energy includes any of the following energy sources:

jacked up loader

Written Programs

EH&S maintains the UW written lockout / tagout program. Departments may follow this program to fulfill specific department needs. Some departments may have existing written programs. Others may want to develop a department-specific written program. Either approach is acceptable as long as the program meets regulatory requirements (WAC 296-803).

The written program must contain the following:

  • Equipment-specific energy control procedures
  • Employee training for both affected and authorized employees
  • Annual reviews of employee knowledge and application of energy control procedures

Accident/Incident Reporting

All injuries and near-misses, including those potentially caused by work with hazardous energy, must be reported using the Online Accident Reporting System (OARS).


Training is a required element of any Lockout/Tagout safety program. EH&S provides basic Lockout/Tagout safety training. Information for Lockout/Tagout safety classes and registration instructions can be found on the UW EH&S Training web site. Additional training on specific procedures must be provided by a competent person.

Getting Started

Using this LOTO program, you can protect your employees and students from hazardous energy by following these steps:

  • Read the written LOTO program and tailor it to the needs of your department as needed. Existing LOTO programs need to include the same information. As an option, departments may develop more specific requirements using the Department Lockout Tagout Program Template.
  • Your department must develop written lockout / tagout procedures. This may be completed using the Lockout Tagout Written Procedure Template provided below. You may also develop your own template for procedures as long as they meet regulatory standards (WAC 296-803).
  • Train all your employees and students who will be exposed to hazardous energy during their work. You can find upcoming classes on the EH&S training schedule.
  • Get devices to lock and tag out your equipment. A wide selection of locks, tags, and other items can be purchased via Ariba from eProcurement Suppliers.
  • Questions? Contact us for help at ehsdept@uw.edu.

Forms and Resources

These forms and resources are made available to all UW departments, but other forms may also be used if they are compliant with regulatory standards (WAC 296-803).

References and Regulations

UW Administrative Policy Statement Lockout/Tagout: A Method of Hazardous Energy Control
WAC 296-803 Lockout/Tagout (Control of Hazardous Energy)
WAC 296-155-429 Locking and Tagging of Circuits (Construction Standards)
WAC 296-24-975 Selection and Use of Work Practices (General Industry Standards)