Are tags safer than locks?

No. Locks are safer to use than tags because they can physically keep employees from accidentally re-energizing machines that are currently under maintenance or repair. OSHA also requires employers to ensure that employees understand that the purposes and functions of lockout tagout tags are limited.

There are some pertinent differences between lockout and tagout:


Lockout involves the use of locks to isolate hazardous energy. These locks are placed on switches, plugs, circuit breakers, valve handles, and the like. They keep employees from unintentionally or accidentally switching on machines and equipment that are currently being serviced.

These locks can physically stop other employees from re-energizing machines. However, locks typically don’t explain why a machine has been locked out and are not able to provide other information that other employees might need.


Tagout refers to the use and placement of tags to inform and warn employees that a machine is currently under maintenance or repair and should therefore not be switched on or energized. Tags essentially function as warning signs that tell unauthorized or unknowing employees that switching on a particular machine is dangerous at the moment.

While tags can present clear warnings, without locks, the tags can’t physically stop other employees from re-energizing a machine. Thus, tagout is not as safe as lockout.

The material provided in this article is for general information purposes only. It is not intended to replace professional/legal advice or substitute government regulations, industry standards, or other requirements specific to any business/activity. While we made sure to provide accurate and reliable information, we make no representation that the details or sources are up-to-date, complete or remain available. Readers should consult with an industrial safety expert, qualified professional, or attorney for any specific concerns and questions.


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