Circuit Breaker Lockout Installation

Installing a circuit breaker lock with hasp, padlock, and tag

What is a Circuit Breaker and How Does It Work?

Circuit breakers connect the main bus bars and the circuit wires that run through your building. These are where the hot and neutral wires for all circuits are connected.

Circuit breakers are essential electrical safety devices designed to monitor the amount of electrical current that runs along the circuit. It automatically shuts down the circuit by tripping in case of an overload or short circuit.

These safety devices also provide a more secure and convenient place to shut down current to a circuit during repairs, maintenance, and/or replacements of any appliance it powers.

Two Types of Standard Circuit Breakers

1. Single-Pole Breakers

A single-pole circuit breaker delivers 120-volt power to circuits and comes in a wide range of amp ratings. Household installations generally use 15-, 20-, and 30- amp circuit breakers.

2. Double-Pole Breakers

Typically, double-pole breakers operate similarly to single-pole breakers. The only difference is that it has two poles instead of one and supplies 240-volt power.

What is a Circuit Breaker Lockout and How to Install It

A circuit breaker lockout is a lockout/tagout device that prevents unexpected electricity re-energization by keeping circuit breakers in the off position. During electrical equipment repair, the power source should be turned off and kept that way until the repair work is done.

There are different types of circuit breaker lockout devices, such as miniature circuit breaker lockout, clamp-on circuit breaker lockout, and universal multi-pole lockout.

How to Install a Miniature Circuit Breaker Lockout?

A mini circuit breaker lockout is a safe and efficient device for locking out miniature circuit breakers. Each type of miniature circuit breaker lockout device is installed differently. Nevertheless, pin-in and pin-out devices are ideal for single-pole breakers, while the tie bar device is recommended for multi-pole breakers.

Pin-in and Pin-out Mini Breaker Locks

  1. Find the small holes in the center of the circuit breaker casing.
  2. Choose the appropriate pin-in or pin-out circuit breaker device.
  3. Put the circuit breaker in the OFF position.
  4. Push the lockout device button to disengage the pins.
  5. Position the pins into the small holes of the casing then release the push button.
  6. Attach a TRADESAFE safety padlock through the lockout device hole to complete the lockout.

Tie Bar Mini Breaker Locks

  1. Place the circuit breaker in the OFF position.
  2. Position the metal clip under the tie bar and in between the poles.
  3. Rotate the thumb wheel clockwise to secure the lockout device onto the circuit breaker.
  4. Insert a TRADESAFE padlock through the hole to secure the device in the locked position.

How to Install a Clamp-on Circuit Breaker Lockout

A clamp-on circuit breaker lockout is available in different sizes to accommodate a variety of circuit breakers. Here are the steps for installing a clamp-on circuit breaker lockout.

  1. Put the circuit breaker in the OFF position.
  2. Place the clamp-on circuit breaker lockout device over the circuit breaker switch tongue.
  3. Rotate the thumb wheel clockwise to secure the lockout device.
  4. Close the lid and attach a TRADESAFE padlock and tag to secure the lockout.

How to Install a Universal Multi-Pole Circuit Breaker Lockout

A universal multi-pole circuit breaker lockout device is designed to lock out most single and multi-pole circuit breakers. Here is how to safely install a universal multi-pole circuit breaker lockout.

  1. Put the circuit breaker in the OFF position.
  2. Attach the lockout device to the breaker switch (The universal breaker lockout device will easily lockout single and multiple handle circuit breakers.)
  3. Place the device over the switch and lock the switch in the OFF position.
  4. Slip the padlock shackle through one of the open holes in the top of the device, then attach the protective tag.

In every circuit breaker lockout installation, it is crucial to try and verify the equipment’s switch or on/off button to ensure that the lockout device is installed correctly and that the circuit breaker is not allowing voltage to bleed through. It is also important to check the equipment with a meter. If the meter does not detect any voltage, then you’re now safe to begin your repairs and maintenance work. After the repairs are completed, and the machine is ready to be used again, you may remove the lockout device.

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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Author: Herbert Post

Born in the Philadelphia area and raised in Houston by a family who was predominately employed in heavy manufacturing. Herb took a liking to factory processes and later safety compliance where he has spent the last 13 years facilitating best practices and teaching updated regulations. He is married with two children and a St Bernard named Jose. Herb is a self-described compliance geek. When he isn’t studying safety reports and regulatory interpretations he enjoys racquetball and watching his favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys.