Safety specialist Master Lock has highlighted the dangers of using ad-hoc protective equipment where lives are at risk from the activation of machinery or the unexpected release of energy or chemicals.

Physically locking the controls of machinery or processes to prevent them being activated when workers might be exposed to danger – known as Lock Out/Tag Out (LOTO) – is a widely adopted accident prevention strategy in industry. However, unless such practices form part of a coherent overall safety strategy, vulnerable workers may not be fully protected. Using shop-bought padlocks as personal safety devices is a potentially fatal practice, warns Master Lock.

“Effective LOTO procedures ultimately rely on the integrity of individual locking devices,” comments Master Lock’s European marketing manager, Kieran MacCourt. “That’s why it’s critical that only locks designed for safety applications should be used in the LOTO role. A lock that breaks easily, can be circumvented, or removed by someone other than the key holder, can be more dangerous than no lock at all because it can engender a false sense of security.

“Most padlocks available to the public were not designed or intended to be used in life-threatening situations,” says MacCourt. “Industrial environments are invariably harsh and frequent heavy use in these environments subjects the padlock to high levels of wear, leading to failure and potentially lethal consequences.”

Many padlocks designed for domestic use also have comparatively simple locking mechanisms, meaning the chances of keys other than the original being able to unlock it are unacceptably high.

Master Lock’s Safety Series padlocks have been designed specifically for LOTO applications in industrial environments. As well as being extremely robust and clearly identifiable as safety devices, Safety Series locks have non-duplicable keys meaning they can only be removed by the worker who placed them.

Master Lock