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Lockout Tagout – Group Lockout

- March 21, 2018 by Leslie Stoll, CSP, ARM (View all posts by Leslie)

Normally, we’d love our supervisors to take an active leadership role. However, when it comes to lockout- tagout, it is not advisable to let them take complete control.

A few months ago, I was touring a manufacturing facility and decided to ask the plant manager about the lockout-tagout procedures for their largest machine. Proudly, he explained that he takes charge and puts on a lock so all his employee can work with the machinery shutdown and locked out. To keep it simple, he explained that he has trained the other employees not work on the machine until he applies his lock. His procedure is incorrect.

According to OSHA,


When servicing and/or maintenance is performed by a crew, craft, department or other group, they shall utilize a procedure which affords the employees a level of protection equivalent to that provided by the implementation of a personal lockout or tagout device.

This means that each employee deserves to have personal control over their personal safety.


Each authorized employee shall affix a personal lockout or tagout device to the group lockout device, group lockbox, or comparable mechanism when he or she begins work, and shall remove those devices when he or she stops working on the machine or equipment being serviced or maintained.

This section explains that each person must apply his or her own lock either directly to a machine or to a lockbox that contains the key that locks attached to the machine or emergency source. Each person should carry their personal key on their body for the duration of the lockout and must personally remove their lock at the end of the work.

When OSHA’s procedures are not followed, safety is compromise. Annual audits should be performed for lockout-tagout operations. Next time you conduct one, aim for finding a multi-person lockout tagout situation to make sure your employees are safely applying their own locks.