Once a Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO) management system has been rolled out, it is a good practice to track and monitor some key performance indicators in order to provide insights into the performance of the LOTO system. This article will elaborate on these indicators, expected trends and desired outcomes a leader should keep an eye on to ensure proactive actions and better program implementation.
The first step is clearly to track how many procedures have been created, how many procedures are used regularly, and how many jobs are executed per day, per month, per year. The number of LOTO procedures used should be close to the number of job requests.
If the number of LOTO procedures used is below the expectation, it can be an indication that something is wrong. It can be a demonstration that employees and contractors are not using LOTO procedures as expected, that there are issues with the procedures or, employees and contractors have other practices and use workarounds.
However, there are always discrepancies between procedures’ application and the number of jobs requested, however, if a gap of more than 10% is noticed, an investigation should be initiated.
Second, it is a good practice to monitor your system performance. Once a LOTO program is implemented, one should track how many changes are requested to the LOTO procedures after a specific period. Are those changes reflective of the work carried out at the facility? Leaders should look to the following to assess how engrained the LOTO program is in reality.
Are there several facilities and equipment upgrades triggering LOTO procedure edits? Is there a balance between modification requests and procedures used? Are all changes supported with formalized change requests? All these indicators can provide insights into the health level of your LOTO program. They may also provide information about whether key stakeholders are adequately using the LOTO procedures and if genuinely all parties are committed to improving the whole program.
However, the absence of modification requests is not an indication of an effective LOTO Program. This can only be true if a program is flawless (which is virtually impossible!). Most likely, no modifications are side effects of a lack of throughout LOTO program implementation. Unfortunately, the latter statement is more likely the reality.
Nonetheless, spikes in modifications requests can be witnessed should major changes are occurring in a facility (i.e. overhaul a production line, adding new machines). Thus, those increases should be temporary and can be explained.
During the LOTO implementation, all organizations should discover great opportunities for improvement in the way LOTO is carried out. The capability of an organization to capture and action those suggestions coming from workers and contractors helps organizations to operate faster, cheaper, easier, but most importantly, safer!
It is not rare to find the followings: having leaking and/or missing a handle on a valve, the need to walk far away from the equipment to turn off a switch, discovering a missing inlet on a pump, noticing a lack of proper access to reach a device aiming to dissipate residual energy, the need to shut down three pumps and four valves instead of disconnecting a single switch to de-energize equipment. These are regular deficiencies examples to all LOTO programs. However, not solving those deficiencies can put an organization at risk of severe injuries and definitively overcomplicate the LOTO process.
As your system matures and modifications are completed, leaders should see a reduction in the number of deficiencies and opportunities for improvements. Be careful, zero modification is not the goal to achieve at all. In a world of continuous improvement, constant changes are positive side-effects demonstrating a healthy lockout/tagout program. As a matter of fact, it is absolutely normal to witness 5% to 10% modification rates.
It is a good practice to track the total number of deficiency notifications. This can help to understand the current state of the LOTO devices since the devices are not tracked into your maintenance management system. More information about this topic is available in the following article Deficiency Management of LOTO Components.
Another interesting piece of information is the cycle time to close modification requests. Once requests are made, how much time your organisation take to get them completed? Cycle times should be different and commensurate to the complexity of changes requests. Competent employees should be able to measure what are acceptable cycle times. Significant exceedances to determined cycle times should be investigated and assessed to ensure a safe working environment.
In addition, if modifications changes requests are not executed in a reasonable time, workers will lose faith in the process and will disengage themselves from providing opportunities for improvement and deficiencies. This would be a shame.
Summary of Key Indicators and Trends
I hope we were able to convince and encourage leaders to track and monitor the health of your LOTO Program. Please find the summary of our recommendations below:
If leaders track, monitor, and act upon in order to improve your LOTO process, chances are that your program will provide the expected outcomes. A healthy LOTO program is a significant component of your Zero Harm safety program and will bring rigour to your maintenance program. Both elements are critical for a safe work environment.
Do not hesitate to contact CONFORMiT should you need more information on how to improve your LOTO program and procedures.