Evaluating Lock Out Tags: Plastic vs. Card Stock Compared

plastic loto tags vs cardstock loto tags

In the industrial setting, lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures are crucial for ensuring worker safety and preventing accidents. Lock out Tags serve as visual reminders that equipment is under maintenance or repair and should not be operated. While both plastic and card stock LOTO tags are commonly used, there are key differences between the two materials that should be considered when choosing the right tag for the job.


What are Lock Out Tags?

Lock out tags are an essential component of the lockout tagout process. They are placed on energy isolation devices (like circuit breaker locks, valve locks, or push button locks) to indicate that the equipment being controlled must not be operated until the lock and tag are removed. The primary purposes of lockout tags are:

  • Warning: They serve as a clear warning to employees that the equipment is not to be operated or tampered with. This helps in preventing accidental startups or releases of stored energy, which could lead to injuries or fatalities.
  • Communication: Lockout tags communicate vital information, including the reason for the lockout, the name of the person who applied the lock and tag, and sometimes the expected duration of the lockout. This information is crucial for coordinating between multiple workers and shifts.
  • Compliance: Using lock out tags is a part of complying with OSHA standards. Failure to correctly implement LOTO procedures, including the use of tags, can result in severe penalties and an increased risk of workplace accidents.

Lockout tagout tags are not, by themselves, physical barriers that prevent the use of equipment. They work more as a warning and a part of a complete LOTO procedure that involves physical locks to secure the energy isolation devices. The effectiveness of lock out tags depends significantly on the safety culture and training within a workplace, emphasizing the need for every worker to understand and implement the lockout tagout process. Nevertheless, the material of lockout tags is also important to consider in order for the lock out tag out process to be efficient.

What are Plastic LOTO Tags?

Plastic LOTO Tags are robust and designed to withstand harsh industrial environments. Their construction makes them resistant to moisture, dirt, grease, and extreme temperatures. The tags are usually made from rigid PVC, encapsulating UV-protected printing, ensuring longevity and legibility. These lock out tag out tags often exceed OSHA's 50-lb pull strength requirement, making them a reliable choice for outdoor use and in areas with exposure to chemicals or constant handling. However, they are typically more expensive than card stock tags and have a higher environmental impact due to their non-biodegradable nature.

What are Card Stock LOTO Tags?

Card stock LOTO tags are made from a type of paperboard that is thicker and more durable than standard paper. They are an economical alternative, best suited for indoor and short-term applications. These lock out tag out tags are lightweight and can be laminated for added durability. Printed on card stock with UV-resistant inks, they are ideal for areas without exposure to harsh conditions. However, they lack the durability of plastic tags and do not meet the 50-lb pull strength required by OSHA for lockout/tagout situations, limiting their use to warning or identification purposes only.


Comparative Analysis of Plastic and Card Stock LOTO Tags

Durability: Plastic tags are more durable, making them ideal for long-term use in harsh conditions. Card stock tags are less durable and suitable for indoor or short-term applications.

Cost-effectiveness: Card stock lock out tags are more cost-effective for applications where durability is not a primary concern.

Compliance with Safety Standards: Plastic LOTO tags generally meet more stringent safety requirements, including OSHA's pull strength standards.

Environmental Impact: Plastic tags have a larger environmental footprint, while card stock tags are more eco-friendly but less durable.

Use Cases and Applications

Plastic Tags: Ideal for outdoor machinery, chemical plants, and areas with high moisture or temperature extremes. They are also preferred in settings where tags need to last longer without fading or tearing.

Card Stock Tags: Best for office-based lockout procedures, indoor equipment, and short-term maintenance tasks. They are often used in settings where budget constraints are a consideration.

comparison chart of plastic loto tags vs cardstock loto tags


Lockout Tagout Tags FAQs

Q1: What does a lockout tag do?

A1: A lockout tag serves as a warning sign that machinery or equipment is not to be operated until the tag is officially removed. It communicates vital information like the reason for the lockout, the person responsible for it, and alerts others that maintenance or repair work is being conducted.

Q2: What are the safety hazards of not using LOTO tags?

A2: Not using LOTO tags can lead to serious safety hazards, including accidental start-up of machinery, unexpected release of stored energy, electric shocks, and other energy-related hazards. This can result in injuries, fatalities, and damage to machinery.

Q3: How to properly use lock out tags to prevent accidents?

A3: To properly use lock out tags, ensure that they are clearly visible and securely attached to the energy isolation device. The tag should display a warning message and identify the person responsible for the lockout.

Q4: What training is required for employees who use lock out tags?

A4: Employees who use lock out tags should receive comprehensive training on the company’s LOTO procedures, the types of energy they will encounter, methods and means to isolate and control energy, and the importance of LOTO tags. Regular refresher training is also essential to maintain safety standards.

Q5: What are the tags used in LOTO?

A5: The tags used in LOTO are typically durable, standardized labels attached to lockout devices. They are designed to withstand environmental conditions and must be legible and understandable. These tags often contain specific warnings, instructions, and identification information about the lockout situation.

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.