All you need to know about Permit to Work systems - Verature

Permit to Work System: Everything you need to know

  • What is a permit to work?

    A work permit authorises named individuals to perform a specific job, within a permitted time-frame, on a particular site or location. It confirms that all precautions and necessary checks have been addressed before, during and after the work is completed. Usually, work permits refer to high-risk or hazardous activities such as working at heights, working in confined spaces, working with explosives, hot works, electrical works, excavation jobs etc. Sometimes, a general permit to work will be completed in order to assess and identify whether other permits are required.

  • What should a permit include?
    • A permit reference number; you must be able to identify and retrieve a permit for audit purposes.
    • The date and time issued; permits need to be completed in real-time so that any risks and assessments of the work are dynamic and relevant.
    • How long the permit is required for; this may or may not be enough time to complete the job, and the rules around how long a permit may be issued vary from business to business. It must be considered in line with the nature of the job and the environment, for example, if the work is in a fast-changing environment, it may not be appropriate to allow work under the same permit the following day as new risks may necessitate a change to the permit conditions.
    • The exact work location; where the work is taking place can massively impact the risks associated to a job.
    • A description of the work; this needs to be detailed enough to illustrate fully that all facets of the job and potential risks have been considered and to ensure that those performing the job understand the scope of the permit. It should enable challenges, checks and audits by colleagues or an external auditor.
    • The anticipated hazards, risks and a consideration of likely outcomes should that risk occur. Often validating that RAMS have been received and properly checked.
    • The precautions that those working under the permit must observe.
    • Any appropriate tests required, at what intervals, for e.g. testing concentration of gases.
    • Details of emergency procedures, this would be site-relevant.
    • Signatures, these can be multiple at various stages of the permit, between permit issuer and contractor/person in charge of completing the work: a signature acknowledging the Contractor/person in charge understand the work and hazards and accepts the recommended precautions and terms of the permit, a signature once work is completed or partially completed, and a cancellation/close-off signature from the permit issuer to cancel the permit to work.
    • Permits will also often require a works team register, where any worker involved in that work needs to sign on to the permit too.
    • Typically permits follow a 4-stage process, back and forth between permit issuer and the person in charge of the work to be completed.

  • What is a permit to work system?

    The HSE defines this as “a formal recorded process used to control work which is identified as potentially hazardous”.

  • Why is a robust permit to work system important?

    The consequence of failure to manage high-risk works, is often the occurrence of an accident or dangerous incident. Due to the nature of the works involved this can involve serious risk to life and premises. Individuals or companies found liable, because they failed to plan, properly instruct or assess the risks involved in the job may be fined and prosecuted for negligence.

    As well as personal and company risk of prosecution, comes the reputational damage to an organisation who has failed to meet their obligations and acted without due diligence.

  • Who is responsible for a permit to work system?

    Any company has health and safety responsibilities to those engaging in works on their site, as well as to any staff, visitors, clients, or the general public that may be affected by those activities.

    Therefore any role in the business responsible for overseeing the performance of work on-site must be aware, and responsible for overseeing a robust permit to work process. Common functions involved with managing work permits would be: Maintenance, Health and Safety/ QHSE, Estates, Facilities and Engineering teams.

  • What tools are there available to help with the permit to work process?

    There are still many organisations that manually manage this process through use triplicate permit to work pads.

    While this is certainly not the wrong way to manage this process, so long as the process is robust, this manual approach is open to errors, missing information and inconsistency in how permits are completed. With the shift towards automation and electronic signatures becoming the norm, many organisations have turned toward digital solutions, moving away from paper-based systems.

    There are many systems out there that can be used to manage the permit to work system:
    • Assure by Evotix
    • SkyVisitor
    • Sinica
    • Verature (find out why Verature is the best in class solution to automate your permit to work process here.)
  • Why use an electronic permit to work (ePermit) system?
    • Manual paper-based systems lack efficiency, control & security, leaving you vulnerable to corruption & lost data. The are extremely susceptible to human error and are resistant to consolidation & merging, meaning gaining a real-time overview of the complete picture, or collating data for reporting, is often difficult, if not impossible.
    • Instead, using a system, data is secured behind login settings & user permissions, archived & retrievable. A good system will be adaptable for your workflows & to meet changing requirements in contractor compliance, ensuring procedural compliance at all times. While in-built workflows and mandatory fields and forms ensure standardised data input, with alerts& escalations processes removing the risk of human error when performing compliance checks.
    • Managing the process and all your data in one central cloud-based system helps ensure you’ve the information you need, for reporting an audit; where it comes to permit quality checks, on-site permit audits, and running reports or retrieving previously issued permits for an external auditor.
  • How does the Verature system help with permit to work?

    Verature is a contractor management system that includes a streamlined process for managing the hired contractor lifecycle, from job booking to document control, remote inductions and assessments, access control, through to the issue of electronic permits to work, permit checks and audits, and permit search, filter and export. Verature also has a permit mapping functionality that digitally plots where permits are issued, replicating the site map on the noticeboard we’re all familiar with. Providing built-in workflow and logic and a filterable and exportable database of issued permits, Verature provides private and public sector clients, cross-sector, with a robust, trackable and auditable permit to work system, offering instant visibility over permit activities.

  • What features does the Verature contractor management system include?
    • Digital/Electronic Permits: replicate your paper permits in digital format, including digital signatures, checks and approvals. Any permit types or required workflow can be replicated.
    • Permit Audit and Check: perform on-site audits, attach documents and snap and attach images from any mobile or portable device.
    • Permissions & Workflows- Verature’s permissions and workflows ensures that only competent Users in the organisation are able to issue particular permit types. Built-in logic and mandatory fields prevents cutting corners and uncertainty that processes are being followed, ensuring no stage of the permit to work process has been skipped.
    • Permit mapping functionality – permits issued will be plotted on your site map or a google map, helping to identify potential clashes in high-risk works.
    • Permits & Passes reporting: track the issue and return of permits. Reporting and querying functions enable you to filter and export all historically issued permits by location, date issued, permit type, permit status (returned incomplete, returned complete, not returned etc.), permit issuer etc. An audit activity log details who did what on a permit along each stage, with date, time and user stamps providing much needed traceability.

The engineer reading notice board of workplace health and safety policy before working in construction site

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