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Cable Lockout Vs Alternate Valve Locking Products


OSHA standard OSHA 29 CFR 1910.147 mandates the use of energy restraining and immobilizing devices to prevent workplace accidents. Electrical & Mechanical energies need to be locked and tagged prior to any maintenance being carried out.

When it comes to locking off valves (ie: mechanical energy), there exist a multitude of LOTO devices for immobilizing different types of valves, some of the most common being:

  1. Metal chains.
  2. Plastic Donut shape devices for locking Wheel Valves.
  3. Cable Lockout devices.
  4. Ball & Butterfly valve (Lever) lockout devices.
  5. Plug Valve lockout devices.
  6. Sanitary Valve (dairy & food) lockout devices.

Cable lockout devices are one of the most popular amongst these, being cost efficient and easy-to-deploy and compact vis-à-vis bulky plastic devices or heavy metallic chains.

Think about this: You need to lock 200 – 300 Wheel valves in one section of the plant. You need to evaluate which device offers the best-in-class solution to minimize fatigue and downtime.

  1. Metal Chains 

Advantages: Tamper proof, difficult to cut, extremely secure.

Disadvantages: Heavy, prone to corrosion over time, may need to manually transport them long distances, difficult to handle, high fatigue, blocks considerable storage space.

  1. Donut shape LOTO Devices

Advantages: Tamper resistant, light weight (compared to chains), fast deployment, minimal fatigue.

Disadvantages: Bulky, prone to weathering if deployed for long periods outdoors, blocks considerable storage space.

  1. Cable Lockout Devices

Advantages: Single device can block multiple valve wheels depending on cable length, Tamper resistant, light weight (compared to chains & donut devices), fast deployment, substantial choice of devices, blocks considerably lesser storage space vis-à-vis metal chains and donut devices, minimal fatigue.

Disadvantages: Depending on the type of device used; independent cables which are not tethered to the device may need to be stored separately, prone to weathering if deployed for long periods outdoors.

Let’s say you need to lock 5 valves in close proximity to one another. This means either 5 separate chains or 5 rigid plastic Donut type LOTO devices would have to be individually fixed on each valve.

Enter the Cable Lockout Device – One device with a long cable would be sufficient to block 5 valves close to each other by quickly looping the cable through the wheels, removing slack applying padlocks.

Lockout Tagout is a critical safety procedure during plant maintenance and cable lockout devices are a smart choice when it comes to compliance with the additional advantage of reducing operational downtime.

* The author of this blog is Qaid Zohar – Director at LOTO Safety, Dubai.
This blog is written to educate interested parties on Lockout Tagout products.
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Cable Lockout – How Does it Work


Having dealt with the pros and cons of using a Cable Lockout device to isolate valves in our first blog vis-à-vis metal chains and rigid plastic donut shaped devices, we now focus on how these devices work and the value it brings to your Lockout Tagout program.

A Cable Lockout device generally has a plastic body of different shapes (depending on the design). A PVC coated steel cable of varying diameters and lengths from 1.0 – 10 mtrs. is fixed at one end with the other end looping through valve wheel and body. Once slack is removed the free end returns back to the base unit in which it would be clamped by a mechanism. The mechanism is locked with one or more padlocks and prevents the clamped cable from being released until all padlocks are removed.

Not all Cable lockout devices are made from Plastic – Metal Cable lockouts are also popular and used in steam and other extreme ambient temperature applications where plastic body devices would be considered impractical. Metallic cable lockouts functions however do not differ in any way from their plastic counterparts.

Cable Lockout devices come in various shapes and designs, are lightweight and quickly deployed in the field. Popular cable lockout devices usually allow 3, 4 or more padlocks to be inserted and prevents removal from the energy source until all padlocks have been disengaged.

The following infographic explain how cable lockout works

Multiple designs are available depending on customer preferences. Local availability also plays an important role in the decision making process as end users would seek assurance on sufficient stock availability with distributors in their territory especially during plant commissioning and shutdowns.

* The author of this blog is Qaid Zohar – Director at LOTO Safety, Dubai.
This blog is written to educate interested parties on Lockout Tagout products.