Safetip #65: Plan-Do-Check-Act Model for Group Lockout/Tagout

February 08, 2017
By Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

This week’s Safetip is about Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) and how following the Plan-Do-Check-Act model can make a group LOTO plan more successful.

LOTO is used to make sure that machines are properly shut off and not able to be unexpectedly started up again or release stored energy, during maintenance or servicing work. OSHA’s LOTO standard (29 CFR 1910.147) addresses the practices and procedures necessary to disable machines or equipment in order to prevent the release of hazardous energy while employees perform servicing and maintenance activities. The standard outlines measures for controlling various hazardous energy sources (e.g. electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal).

What is Group Lockout/Tagout?

OSHA’s directive manual “The Control of Hazardous Energy – Enforcement Policy and Inspection Procedures” defines Group Lockout/Tagout in the following way:

“Group LOTO allows authorized individual employees to be protected from hazardous energy when they are part of a group (two or more employees) performing covered servicing or maintenance. Group LOTO is the means by which each authorized employee performing the servicing and/or maintenance exercises his or her control over the associated hazardous energy by attaching his or her personal LO or TO device onto a group LOTO mechanism. It consists of personal LOTO devices, group LOTO devices/mechanisms, and equipment LOTO devices.”

When people work together, there is a greater likelihood for miscommunication and human errors that increase safety risks. Group LOTO practices help to reduce safety risks and make sure that all workers are protected from unexpected releases of hazardous energy.

PDCA Model Makes Group LOTO More Successful

According to an EHS Today article, there is no single, standard approach to group LOTO. However, by following the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) management model, a site-specific group LOTO can be more successful. Here are more details from the article for each stage of the model:


  • Have a written program that details plans for group lockout activities at the facility.
  • Have a lockout equipment plan in place that meets machinery/process needs.


  • Prepare workers through job-specific training backed with detailed and well-tested lockout procedures.
  • Locate LOTO equipment for easy access.


  • Verify each group lockout by testing for zero energy. Ask at least a second person to also verify.
  • Have leadership routinely inspect active group lockout operations to congratulate good safety continuity or correct insufficient protection.


  • Share lessons learned with those authorized in group lockout.
  • Drive continuous improvement by:
    • Accepting lessons learned to overcome misunderstandings and lack of knowledge.
    • Addressing equipment needs.
    • Turning apathy into participation.

By following the PDCA model and having successful group lockout, people can work together more effectively to reduce safety risks.

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