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How to Choose a Safety Padlock

The purchase and use of high quality safety padlocks in combination with lockout devices forms an integral part of any industrial safety programme. When an authorised employee turns a piece of industrial machinery off, whether for maintenance, repair or any other reason, a lockout device and safety padlock should be applied to ensure that no other person is able to reenergize the machine. Having such safety procedures in place protects both employees and their employers, preventing accidents in the workplace and helping employers to comply with international and local safety legislation.

Issues to consider when deciding which safety padlock to purchase include:


The most popular materials for the construction of safety padlocks are plastic, aluminium, and steel & brass. Whilst each material is durable enough to withstand the high temperatures and pressures of industrial environments, each has distinct characteristics that may make it more suitable for certain environments than others, and are available with a wide variety of shackle materials, for further applications.

Plastic: There are several types of plastic padlocks available. Designed for extreme conditions, plastic padlocks are able to withstand extreme temperatures, as well as acidic and salty conditions. Our Nylon Safety Padlock range are made from fibreglass-reinforced nylon, with stainless steel shackles. The Master Lock 410 and Master Lock S31 are made from Zenex® brand thermoplastic. Zenex® is a composite material, consisting of polycarbonate, polyester, mineral and glass fibres. They can withstand temperatures from -70 to +350 °F and are light, portable, resistant to impact and resistant to both UV and chemical corrosion.

While the Master Lock 410 and S31 padlocks feature a plastic body and steel shackle, the Master Lock 406 is a non-conductive alternative. These padlocks featurea plastic shackle and are particularly suited to use in electrical lockout procedures, mining (as they are non-sparking, hospital and military environments.

Aluminium: Aluminium padlocks are very highly resistant to corrosion, UV light, chemicals and other environmental factors. They are durable and are also capable of withstanding extremes of temperature, having been successfully tested from -70 to +350 °F.

Steel & brass: Steel & brass padlocks, in particular Abloy Padlocks are extremely strong and resistant to attack. They are hightly resistant to both temperatures and corrosion. Abloy padlocks are regarded as one the world's leading manufacturers of padlocks, as they produce some of the world's strongest locks.

Key Systems

A properly constructed industrial safety programme will operate on a policy of "one employee, one key", meaning that for any padlock applied to a lockout device only one authorised employee will carry a key that is able to open the padlock, and thus be able remove the device. This policy leads to standard safety padlocks being supplied "keyed different"; however, other options are available:

Keyed-to-differ: Default for lockout padlocks: Each padlock comes with a unique key, which only opens that specific padlock.

Keyed alike: Each padlock within the set can be opened with the same key. They can be supplied with one key, or many. This key setting is useful when one worker requires several padlocks to secure different lockout devices.

Master keyed: Each padlock within the set is keyed different, but a master key is supplied which can open all the padlocks within that set.

These sets can be mixed and matched. For example, you could have two sets of keyed alike padlock, with a master key to open both sets. You could have multiple layers of this, with two master keys, each linked to two keyed alike sets, with a Grand Master key to open all four sets


Safety padlocks used for lockout procedures must be easily identifiable and distinguishable from other padlocks used in the workplace. Colour-coding of padlocks is the easiest way to achieve this; Plastic bodied padlocks are available in 8 different colours, and colour bumpers and stickers can be used to mark aluminium and steel padlocks.


Safety padlocks can be supplied with a wide range of labels; from "Danger" as part of a warning system for employees, to identification labels incorporating the name and/or photo of the employee who applied the padlock. Laser engraving of padlocks is also available for a more robust identification system; engraving of the name of the employee or company is a popular option. Both plastic and aluminium padlocks can be laser engraved.

For expert advice on choosing safety padlocks, as well as a whole range of other Lockout Tagout products, call us on 01642 244017 or email us

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