Revision of the CSA Z460 Canadian Standard on Lockout/Tagout

Revision of the CSA Z460 Canadian Standard on Lockout/Tagout


In Canada, 2005 marked a turning point regarding the control of hazardous energy. The “Control of hazardous energy – Lockout and other methods” standard was edited. Its implementation aimed toward the harmonization of lockout practices in Canada and Quebec. Did this standard deliver its promises? And what about its application in 2013?

A major modification introduced in the new version concerns the scope of the standard. It now includes mobile mechanical equipment and the use of ice plugs.

Main Changes

Before 2005, many Canadian provinces had their own approach regarding the control of hazardous energy and lockout. An exhaustive review of these different legislation is presented in the first version of the book “Le cadenassage, une question de survie”(1) (Lockout, a matter of survival). This review demonstrated that it would be better to develop a national standardization of all practices. Since then, most provincial and federal organizations refer to this standard.

New practices implemented in 2005 – Lockout Tag

The first draft of the standard, which was inspired from American practices, introduced in Canada the concept of lockout tag. The lockout tag is now an important element of the lockout program. It results from a risk analysis involving the participation of competent people(2). The tag is then evaluated to ensure its efficiency before being approved by a representative of the employer. Afterwards, it will be made available at all time for workers as a reference. Therefore, it is not a document that has been created in a rush. On the contrary, it is a reliable reference tool and its content was not due to mere chance.

The obligation resulting from a standard to create lockout tags for equipment and associated tasks was seen by many companies as an impossible feat to accomplish. However, it is not the case. For a well-structured program, the development of lockout tags adds rigour to the maintenance management and production activities. Those who had the courage to move forward even noticed an increase in productivity. These gains are not only possible for big companies but also for small and medium size companies.

During our audits performed in several companies, we have noticed that although lockout tags are widely used, many companies have not created tags that are easy to read by workers. Some even produced tags that created additional safety risks as they do not always stem from an exhaustive risk analysis.

Also, certain workplaces have implemented general tags that list the energy sources of a machine or a system, leaving the worker to check what needs to be locked depending on the tasks to perform. It is a dangerous practice that prevents standardization in the workplace. Although the introduction of the standard generally allowed us to make an important step forward, more work needs to be done in large, medium and small companies.

The main modifications presented in 2013

1. Scope of the standard

A major modification introduced in the new version concerns the scope of the standard. It now includes mobile mechanical equipment and the use of ice plugs.

An annex (Annex L) regarding mobile mechanical equipment was included. All this equipment is now covered by this standard, including aircrafts and ships. This modification will certainly have an important impact on the aeronautics sector. As for ice plugs, Annex K describes the current practices allowing the application of non-intrusive isolation methods of piping systems.

The scope of application includes the following exception:

This standard does not prescribe safety tags for machinery or equipment whose only power source is the operator.

As well, the standard is applicable to most equipment, mechanical systems and processes moved by anything other than human energies.

2. New definitions

To further clarify the terms used, new definitions were added:

  • Person concerned
  • Risk assessment
  • Risk reduction
  • Zero energy level
  • Zero energy level control

Additionally, we have updated the definition of “lockout”. The 2005 version defined lockout as follows:

The placement of a lock or tag on an energy isolating device in accordance with an established procedure.

This definition was confusing as the word “or” suggested that it could be considered as an adequate substitute to a lock. So the 2013 version modified this definition in order to restrict it to the installation of a lock.

3. Other modifications

Some other minor changes indicate who can accomplish the isolation of energy sources and lockout, as well as clarify what must be done when it is impossible to use lockout devices designed to isolate energy sources.

The expectations and minimum frequencies in terms of training are stated which allows users to better determine the requirements in this field.

Modifications for improvement

The public review of the standard has received the approval of a majority of participants and this new version will certainly clarify many questions asked by the users.

For more information regarding the CSA Z460 standard, do not hesitate to contact the SPI Consulting Services team at 1-877-544-0911 or send an email directly to Mr. Alain Daoust at [email protected]

Alain Daoust, CRIA, CRSP, VEA
EHS Expertise Director, SPI Health and Safety
Vice-president of the CSA Z460 Review Committee (2013)