Padlocks for Your Electrical Safety Program
Padlocks can help improve workplace safety by controlling access to energized areas of the plant, warehouse or factory
Detachable locks that typically incorporate a U-shaped bar that’s hinged at one end and designed to pass through an opening of a hasp or a link in a chain, padlocks help protect against unauthorized use, theft, vandalism or harm.
An important part of a firm’s industrial safety measures—particularly in areas where energized electrical equipment is present and the threat of arc flash accidents is prevalent—padlocks allows safety supervisors to lock out specific pieces of machinery, equipment or entire areas where repairs or preventive maintenance are taking place.
Padlocks are comprised of these three basic components:
- Shackle: Most often a loop of metal (U-shaped bar) that opens up to lock and unlock the padlock. Available in varying lengths and diameters to fit a variety of needs. There is a rather unique style of lock (see the single-post shackle padlock below) that uses a straight shackle.
- Body: The solid part of the padlock that contains the locking mechanism.
- Locking mechanism/cylinder: Locks usually have a keyway where the key is inserted, or that use a type of rotary mechanism or dial.
Used in virtually every business, organization and home, padlocks come in a wide variety of options and styles, including:
- Lockout padlocks: Locks designed specifically for use in lockout programs that often have a provision on the lock to write the user’s name and come with only one key to limit access to the lock.
- Breakaway shackle: A lock featuring a scored shackle that will break when struck by a hammer or other substantial object. This padlock is for applications where the lock may need to be removed rapidly for emergency response like on sprinkler hose shut-off valves and fire hoses.
- Combination: A lock that uses a rotary dial or series of buttons to unlock the device rather than a conventional key.
- Combination with key control: A lock with key control that can be opened with a key or a combination. This type of lock is typically used in schools and locker rooms, where the control key can open all the combination locks in that set.
- Guarded/shrouded/shielded padlocks: A lock that has solid metal guards that protect and surround the shackle on both sides, leaving only the top of the shackle exposed. The guards make it much more difficult to cut the shackle with a bolt cutter.
- Government padlocks: Locks made to meet exacting U.S. government production standards such as Commercial Item Descriptions CID-A-A-59486, CID-A-A-59487 and CID-A-A-1928.
- High security: A lock that typically has one or more of the following options to increase its level of protection: hardened steel shackle for cut resistance, shrouded shackle to protect against cutting and prying, pick-resistant key cylinder and/or reinforced locking mechanism to resist prying.
- Laminated: The body consists of multiple pieces of metal stacked on top of each other to form a tough, tamper-resistant lock.
- Weather resistant: Locks that have either a shroud to protect the lock from the elements or are constructed from weather-resistant materials such as stainless steel.
- Single-post shackle padlocks: This lock uses a single post rather than a U-shaped shackle. These are used on vending machines, utility valve equipment, meters and wherever a less accessible shackle is desired.
Selecting the Right Padlock
Made from aluminum, brass, solid steel, stainless steel, titanium or even plastic, padlocks generally come with two keys. However, in applications where different keying options are required, the other options include: keyed alike (where all keys open all the locks in a set of padlocks), keyed different (where each padlock has a unique key(s) that opens only that lock and will not open any of the other locks within the set), and master keyed (locks are keyed-different padlocks with the addition of a single master key that can open all the locks in a set).