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Isolating machinery when not in production

This film focuses on effectively isolating machinery, to ensure it doesn't start up accidentally during maintenance, servicing or cleaning.

The film details how to isolate energy sources, lock power sources and controls, de-energise stored energy and tagging procedures to ensure the machine cannot be turned on.

The process for machine isolation should be part of an organisation's comprehensive safety management system. The process should include:

  • identifying and assessing risk
  • implementing suitable risk controls and reviewing them
  • developing safe work method statements
  • consulting with workers during the development of (and changes to) the safe work method
  • ensuring only trained and competent workers undertake the task.

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Download a copy of this film (ZIP/MP4, 45MB)

Isolating machinery when not in production

Narrator: A 42 year old worker's arm was crushed by a wool pulling machine he was cleaning.

The main operating switch of the machine was off, but an isolation switch installed on the electrical supply had been left 'on'.

Another worker accidentally struck the foot pedal with a broom when sweeping. This activated the machine and the rollers crushed his arm, causing severe lacerations, degloving and fractures.

Make sure this doesn't happen at your workplace by ensuring machines are shut down and isolated when they're not in production or when they're being repaired, maintained or cleaned.

Isolation means that energy cannot enter the machine - and stored energy cannot be released - so there's no way it can start up accidently.

The most effective way to isolate machines is to lock them out:

  • First, shut it down and turn off the power at its source.
  • Prevent the power being turned back on by locking the switch or lever in the 'off' position. It should only be possible for the lock to be removed by the person who attached it.
  • Lock any other controls that could also activate or energise the machine.
  • De-energise any stored energy which could also activate the machine. Air or hydraulic, energy may be stored in a machine after the electricity has been turned off. This could involve lowering elevated equipment or releasing air or hydraulic pressure.

Once the machine is isolated, follow a tag-out process to warn others that the machine is not safe to use.

  • Danger lockout tags are used once energy sources and isolation points have been locked-out when someone is working on a machine and would be at serious risk if it was turned on or operated.
  • Out of service tags are placed on machinery to indicate that it is faulty or damaged.

Tags should identify the person who locked out the machine, the date and time, and the reason for isolation.

If the isolation process involves a number of people, each person must attach their own 'danger lockout tag' to their individual padlock and lock their padlock on a hasp in a lock box. Each person's name and relevant details must be recorded on the isolation register.

Finally, test that the machine has been isolated by attempting to reactivate it without putting yourself or others in danger.

Training your workers and contractors in isolating machinery should be a priority.


  • shut down the machine
  • isolate energy sources
  • tag the machine, and
  • inform someone that the machine is not in production.

For more information visit or call 1300 362 128.

Work safe. Home safe.