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When should you lockout a forklift?

By Jessica Barrett | Last updated: June 4, 2023
Presented by Ideal Warehouse Innovations

Before we talk about when you should lockout a forklift, let’s discuss what the term even means.

Locking Out a Forklift

Lockout/tagout refers to the practices and procedures that help protect employees from the unexpected start-up of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during servicing or maintenance.

Lockout devices hold devices in the "off" position and can only be removed by an authorized individual with a key, providing employees with the utmost protection.


Any workplace that has a forklift – even if it's just one – must have written lockout procedures as per OSHA regulations.

So, when is it necessary to lockout a forklift? The procedure must be carried out prior to any employee performing servicing or maintenance on the equipment.

Lockout Procedure

The lockout procedure involves the following steps:

  1. Prepare for shutdown
  2. Shut down the machine
  3. Disconnect or isolate the machine from the energy source
  4. Apply the lockout device to the energy-isolating device
  5. Release, restrain, or otherwise render safe all potential hazardous stored or residual energy
  6. Verify the isolation and de-energization of the machine

Maintenance activities may only begin after these lockout steps have been completed.

Remember that lockout is designed to prevent serious injury due to unexpected start-up or re-energization of a forklift that is undergoing servicing or maintenance. It’s the responsibility of the employer to advise employees of the lockout standard and proper lockout/tagout procedures.

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Best Practices EHS Programs Lockout Tagout (LOTO)

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Written by Jessica Barrett

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Jessica is a freelance writer and editor from Toronto, Canada. She specializes in creating content for nonprofits and has written for organizations working in human rights, conservation, education, and health care. She loves traveling and food, speaks Spanish, and has two dogs, one of whom she rescued while living in Mexico.

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