Know a typical security mistake when using padlocks with a master key


What is a skeleton keys? We know that too many locks are often bought in the industry, and the easy solution is often:

Get a duplicate of this key.

If we have 5 people authorized for the lockout procedures, have a key that opens these 5 padlocks.

In both cases we can definitely request it from our lock supplier, but first we should ask ourselves the following:

Can I use master keys for padlocks?

Let us know what the Law really tells us; As we have mentioned on several occasions, let us take as a reference the regulations of since they are the most used worldwide and the most complete standards.

According to, multi-key or keyed alike locks may not be used for lockout/tag out purposes. So this easy solution becomes non-viable. Because padlocks must have only one key, an industrial padlock manufacturer does not include 2 keys, unlike a hardware store lock that typically includes 2 keys in case the user loses one.

The key to a lockout procedure must be under the exclusive control of the employee who will perform the lockout procedure (authorized employee).

We have failed to use master keys, but this has a solution!

The issue of multiple or master keys for lockout/tag out can be confusing when referenced. Since this standard clearly mentions to us that the locking device is required to be under the exclusive control of the employee who will apply the locks and perform the maintenance.

There is a 1995 letter of interpretation for this unknown that if a master key exists for. The purpose of removing a lock with a lost or misplaced key it may not exist, any lock determined to have a missing key may not be used and must withdraw and replace the corresponding padlock immediately. When an authorized employee cannot use his key. Either because the employee is not on the premises or because the employee does not have his key.

In these conditions can be used:

This device may be removed at the direction of the employer, provided that specific procedures and training for such removal have been developed. Documented, and incorporated into the employer’s plan in an Energy Control Program. The employer must demonstrate that the specific procedure provides safety equivalent to. The removal of the device by the authorized employee who applied it.

The specific procedure must include at least the following elements:

  • Verification by the employer that the authorized employee who applied the device is not at the facility.
  • Make all reasonable efforts to contact the authorized employee and. Inform them that their lockout or tag out device has been removed.
  • Ensure that the authorized employee has this knowledge before resuming work at that facility.

The employer must be prepared to demonstrate to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, i.e.. The Compliance Health and Safety Officer during a facility inspection. That the specific procedures listed above provide security equivalent to removal of the lock by the employee who applied it.