Energy control method other than lockout

by Mar 5, 2019Lockout, Machine Safety

For access to a danger zone during maintenance activities or assembly and installation activities, lockout or, in absence of lockout, any other energy control method that ensures equivalent safety must be applied, according to RROHS article 188.2. These other energy control methods are sometimes called ‘’alternative methods to lockout.’’

When can a lockout alternative be applied?

RROHS simply states that when lockout isn’t possible, another energy control method can be considered. However, the notion of whether lockout is a possibility can quickly become subjective when production imperatives or time constraints are considered, for example.

CSA Z460-13, from which the RROHS is strongly inspired, offers precisions on the tasks that are appropriate for lockout alternatives [2]. The characteristics of these tasks are partly listed in the CNESST’s explanatory guide on its regulatory provisions. [3] These tasks are usually:

  1. Of short durations
  2. Of relatively small scope;
  3. Frequent during a shift or production day;
  4. Performed by operators, people in charge of adjustments and maintenance personnel;
  5. Predetermined cyclical activities

Typically, these activities can be lubrification, tools changes and minor tasks such as cleaning, troubleshooting, adjusting, inspection and setting work.

Under what conditions can an alternative method to lockout be applied?

The necessary regulatory condition that needs to be met to use a lockout alternative is having performed a thorough and proper risk analysis to implement a risk reduction method that ensures equivalent risk reduction. The process must be recorded on a written support (RROHS article 188.4).

The work therefore consists in performing a classical risk analysis as described in standards such as ISO 12100 (2010) or CSA Z432 (2017)[4][5]. In short, the steps consist of risk identification, estimation and evaluation, followed by risk reduction.

Concretely, what makes up a lockout alternative?

Risk analysis allows determination of the right alternative method for risk reduction. These methods are the same as those used in production risk reduction. The decreasing efficiency of the following risk reduction methods must be considered: permanent or adjustable protectors (with interlocking devices), protective devices (ex. Safety curtains, sensitive safety mats), etc.

In its guide, the CNESST uses the example of a trapped key (ou key-retaining lock) to enter a robot enclosure [3]. Reduced-energy operating modes, that were the object of a previous blog, are alternative methods to lockout that can be used for risk reduction.



[1] Règlement sur la santé et la sécurité du travail du Québec, RLRQ, c. S-2.1, r. 13.

[2] Association canadienne de normalisation. (2013). Maîtrise des énergies dangereuses : cadenassage et autres méthodes. Norme CSA Z460-13. Toronto : Association canadienne de normalisation.

[3] Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST). (2016) Guide d’information sur les dispositions réglementaires – Cadenassage et autres méthodes de contrôle des énergies. Guide DC200-1579.

[4] Organisation internationale de normalisation. (2010). Sécurité des machines : principes généraux de conception : appréciation du risque et réduction du risque. Norme ISO 12100:2010. Genève : Organisation internationale de normalisation.

[5] Association canadienne de normalisation. (2017). Protection des machines. Norme CSA Z432-16. Toronto : Association canadienne de normalisation.

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