Ladders/Lockouts & OSHA

Review OSHA standards for Ladders and Lockouts

Thu Dec 13, 2018


As an electrical consumable supplier, F4P is no stranger to the electrical industry. Because of this, F4P knows how essential knowledge on electrical safety is, especially since improper handling can lead to serious danger. That’s where OSHA comes in. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration compliance, or OSHA for short, was created to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance. Even with this in mind, violations will still occur. What’s important is knowing how to prevent them and keep them from happening in the future. But in order to know how to prevent them, it must be known what they are. Every year, OSHA lists its “Top 10 Violations of…” detailing areas where safety violations occurred the most for the year. Some that made the list were hazardous communication, scaffolding, and respiratory protection. But this post will focus on listed violations that could occur at F4P, those being lockout/tagout and ladders.



Electrical mishaps can occur from time to time and because of this, standards have been put in place to minimize these mishaps from happening. Lockout/tagout is one of these standards meant to “safeguard employees from the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service and maintenance activities.” In 2018, there were 2,944 lockout/tagout violations alone (67 more from the previous year), making finding ways to minimize this number even more paramount. Lockout/tagouts should be used in the following conditions:

  • When an employee performs any major servicing or maintenance work

  • When an employee places part of their body in harm’s way

  • When an employee bypasses a safety device

  • When an employee must remove machine guarding

Lockouts work by holding energy-isolation devices in a safe or off position. Tagouts work as a warning device, in the form of a tag, to indicate that the energy isolating machine may not be operated until the tagout is removed.

Devices that enable lockout are known as positive restraints because they can’t be removed without a key or other unlocking mechanisms. Because of its difficulty to unlock, it prevents tampering and accidental removal. In contrast, tagout devices are easier to remove, but unfortunately, provide employees with less protection than do lockout devices. Both devices are not to be tampered with because it can result in injuries or fatalities. Before lockout/tagout devices are removed, these two procedures must be followed:

  1. Machines and their components should be inspected to insure they are intact and that nonessential items are removed.
  2. Have employees positioned safely away from machines.

Lockout/tagout devices are meant to keep employees from harm, not cause harm through careless handling. Following the correct protocol while handling them can help the number of violations decrease. To review this OSHA standard, please refer to it in Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 1910.147.



Another common OSHA violation involves a more familiar item used to reach high places, otherwise known as a ladder. Although ladders seem safer in comparison to other heavy equipment, injuries and fatalities still occur on or around them. In 2018, there were 2,812 violations that happened, 571 more from the previous year. To lower this number, it must be taken into account what not to do when using a ladder. OSHA details standard rules that should be followed during ladder usage. These include:

  1. Use ladders only on stable and level surfaces

  2. Do not load ladders past their maximum intended load or capacity

  3. Do not move, shift, or extend ladders while in use

  4. Maintain ladders free of oil, grease and other slipping hazards

  5. Use ladders only for their intended purpose

OSHA also lists general requirements to be applied to all ladders:

  1. Ladder must be parallel, level, and uniformly spaced when ladder is in use

  2. Ladder components must be surfaced to prevent snagging of clothing and injury

  3. Ladders must not be tied or fastened together to create longer sections unless specifically designed for such use

Ladders are meant to safely allow employees to reach higher places. Keeping the rules in mind can, significantly, help reduce safety violations. To review this OSHA standard, please refer to it in Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 1910.23.


OSHA put these standards in place for the betterment of every working environment. Abiding by their standards is how the workplace can remain a safe space.