Why do I need a Permit to Work System? Some thoughts

A Permit to work system will help to ensure that all work performed on site is a. Planned and approved b. Performed safely, and c. That all necessary personnel are informed.

There are some key questions which should be addressed before a permit to work is issued - here are some of the things you might see on a permit to work checklist:

Where will the work be done

is there anything or anyone nearby which could be impacted. For example a tank containing inflammable liquids, combustible materials, a pedestrian walkway. In addition work taking place under other permits may impact the permit being created. An effective permit to work system will include a permit board. This provides a visualisation of all permits taking place on a site so that any potential SIMOPS issues can be identified and managed.

Who will do the work

Are they qualified to do the work . Wil contractors be used ? If so do they have the appropriate access to the system to allow them to provide the appropriate input.

Are any isolations required

How will LOTO be handled

Who will be informed when the work is completed

Are there any stakeholders not involved in direct sign-off who need to know when a permit has been completed.

How will other people know that the work is being done

So for example electrical work on the line isn't scheduled at the same time

Will working at height be involved

Will a permit to work at height be required? - what about working in confined spaces or hot work?

A permit to work system ( sometimes called 'control of work') will help you ensure that all these questions are answered before work commences - it should also ensure that permits are easily managed from a central location and ideally with a visual representation of the work area - we call these 'Plot Plans'.

There are many ways to manage a permit to work system. A paper based system will typically use a Standard permit to work template which is completed, authorised and stored in hard copy format. Although a paper based system is fairly reliable it's also possible that permits will be stored remotely from the work site, leading to potential delays and confusion. To avoid some of these issues many companies adopt an Electronic Permit to work system which typically allows permit templates to be created and modified to suit the individual business requirements.

Usually a permit will contain some reference to a risk assessment - usually a RAMS ( risk assessment method statement).  In permit to work software a RAMS will typically be attached to the permit record so that everyone involved in executing the permit has access to the same information.

Permits are typically then stored centrally and can be easily and quickly accessed by authorised personnel. This allows authorisation and permit handback to be performed quickly and crucially it means that isolations can be managed efficiently to reduce the risk of injury. Since permits are stored centrally it is also easy to get an overview of permit activity (an electronic permit board) and more detailed statistics on permit activity can be obtained with tools like PowerBI

Find out more on our PTW product page