6 considerations when selecting your safety lockout padlocks

With so many hardware options available for your lockout tagout program, it can be hard to know which padlock is right for your specific situation. Add on the complexities of managing lockout tagout programs for multiple departments or facilities and the options can be downright overwhelming.

To help you sort through the confusion, we’ve developed a list of important considerations when selecting your lockout tagout padlocks.

  • Finding the right padlock material type

    The first step is to find the right padlock type for your specific application. There are three material options to consider:

    Brady Lockout Tagout Nylon Padlock

    Nylon padlocks

    Nylon padlocks have a lightweight nylon body with either a steel or nylon shackle that's ideal for industrial environments. The nylon padlocks with nylon shackle are plastic, non-conductive and non-sparking making it great for electrical and indoor applications.

    Compact padlocks are also available for smaller spaces. The extremely compact and lightweight design with non-conductive and non-sparking nylon shackle is ideal for small spaces for electrical contractors, maintenance and electricians.

    Brady Lockout Tagout Aluminum Padlock

    Aluminum padlocks

    The aluminum padlock with steel shackle provides both corrosion resistance, as well as added durability for tougher industrial environments and outdoor use.

    Brady Lockout Tagout Steel Padlock

    Steel padlocks

    Steel padlocks are made with reinforced laminated steel that withstands severe physical abuse and a hardened steel shackle with individually coated body plates for superior rust protection.

  • Traditional Safety Padlocks vs. SafeKey Lockout Padlocks

    Brady Lockout Tagout Safety Padlocks

    The next consideration includes whether your program would benefit from the use of traditional safety padlocks vs. Brady SafeKey Lockout Padlocks. What's the difference? 

    • Traditional Safety Padlocks — Traditional safety padlocks are a multi-purpose solution that includes flexible cable locks for tight spaces and simultaneous lockout points. Not to mention, this padlock design offers additional material options including non-conductive nylon, aluminum and laminated steel lock bodies. The traditional safety padlocks rely on a classic design that includes a pin tumbler lock mechanism with a jagged key design. It's design also means fewer key combinations, making it ideal for small work groups and facilities with fewer energy isolation points.
    • SafeKey Lockout Padlocks — SafeKey Lockout Padlocks feature a patent-pending locking mechanism that includes six precision steel tumbler blades and more unique key possibilities, making it ideal for large organizations using hundreds of thousands locks. The innovative design makes for an extra smooth key insertion and removal — even when wearing gloves! It's linear, low-friction lock mechanism helps maintain key integrity, helping the padlock last longer.
  • Organizing your hardware with LOTO color-coding, engraving or lock labels

    Color-coding, engraving or lock labels are some of the ways larger organizations communicate the status of machine maintenance, reduce losses and ensure they are compliant. Learn more about how each approach may benefit your lockout tagout program:

    Brady Lockout Tagout Safety Padlocks
    • Color-coding — Larger organizations have benefited from color-coding locks by trade or location to help keep equipment organized. Color-coded locks can also tell you who is still working on a machine at a glance, improving the visibility of the lockout process. Some facilities have even opted to color code their locks by location to reduce losses when internal maintenance teams are working with outside contractors.
    • Engraving — Engraving is an easy, more permanent way to keep everything organized, while also communicating the status of maintenance. For example, a facility may opt to engrave the department name on each lock, as well as the key code to make it easier to match the locks and keys together.
    • Lock labels — Lock labels are especially useful in keeping everything organized and they can quickly be updated to accommodate any unexpected change. Brady labels are made of durable vinyl and include a write-on surface that accepts pencil, pen or marker for those on-the-spot updates.
  • Selecting the right key system for your needs

    Finding the right key system for your lockout tagout program ensures the right people have access to lockout equipment during maintenance. The guidelines below will help you determine the right keyed alike or keyed different option for your unique needs:

    Brady Lockout Tagout Keyed Different Padlocks

    Keyed different padlocks

    Each padlock has its own unique key. Ideal for ensuring there is no potential key duplication when multiple maintenance personnel need to lockout equipment.

    Brady Lockout Tagout Keyed Alike Padlocks

    Keyed alike padlocks

    Each padlock can be opened with the same key. This option is beneficial when multiple locks are assigned to a single employee. However, it’s important to remember that under OSHA regulations no employee should be able to open a lock applied by someone else. Therefore, keyed alike locks from the same set should never be distributed to multiple employees.

    This type of lock is mostly used when a maintenance individual is responsible for multiple machines or isolation points. It makes it easier to find the right key and reduces the number of keys on a key ring.

    Brady Lockout Tagout Master Keyed Padlocks

    Master keyed padlocks

    The master key can open all locks including keyed alike and keyed different locks. This allows supervisors to easily remove a lock in the event of an emergency. In order for employees to retain exclusive control, master keys should be kept in a secure location that is only accessible to management.

    Brady Lockout Tagout Grand Master Keyed Padlocks

    Grand master keyed padlocks

    The grand master key can open all locks grouped into two or more master keyed systems. This option is best for applications with larger teams requiring multiple levels of supervisory access. In order for employees to retain exclusive control, grand master keys should be kept in a secure location that is only accessible to management.

  • Charting and tracking your locks / keys

    Charting your locks and keys is recommended when the end user requires no risk of key duplication or for custom padlock options such as master keyed and grand master keyed padlocks. Brady can track or “chart” your key codes upon request to simplify ordering replacement locks and to avoid duplicates when ordering additional locks.

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Silhouttes of different padlocks.
  • Streamlining your program through standardization

    When you’re managing lockout tagout programs for multiple departments or facilities, standardizing your program can provide a number of benefits to your organization. The most successful lockout tagout programs include the complete safety picture — locks, tags and devices, as well as proper lockout procedures, program documentation, employee training, periodic inspections or other procedural elements.

    By creating a standard, it makes ordering new locks easier and faster because you know the exact lock you need to order for each application. It can also simplify training because a standardized program outlines what locks to use and where they are located.

  • Need more help?

    If you’re still struggling to determine the best hardware and products for your lockout tagout program, we’re here to help. Partner with our in-house team of lockout tagout experts who can assist you in creating a sustainable and compliant safety program supported by:

    • Our insights — Field engineers from different backgrounds provide a variety of perspectives and find potential safety gaps others won’t
    • Our services — Industry-trusted expertise in lockout tagout, arc flash and confined space to keep you and your team protected
    • Our products — Safety products and software designed by experts and engineered to perform

    Learn more about our lockout tagout solutions at www.bradyid.com/safety-services/lockout-tagout.



Lockout Tagout Guidebook

Learn more about Lockout Tagout compliance with “The Safety Professionals Expanded Guide to LOCKOUT TAGOUT”


Learn what equipment you need to effectively use lockout tagout in your facility with our downloadable checklist.

Lockout Tagout FAQ's

See what other Safety Managers are most commonly asking about the lockout tagout standard.

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