98% of companies say a robust health and safety strategy is important to their overall success. Yet there’s still work to be done turning safety discussions from a future goal to everyday reality.
One of the simplest and most important things companies can do to improve workplace safety is to invest in a Permit to Work system.
Want to know why? Here are five reasons:
1. Permit to Work applications improve health and safety planning
The importance of keeping workers safe cannot be underestimated. Whether managing an in-house team or employing contractors, it’s your responsibility to protect people’s well-being.
A Permit to Work system is important for improving health and safety planning to minimise the risk of workplace injuries. It achieves this by listing measures and precautions that must be taken during high-risk tasks such as hot works, electrical works, working at heights and working in confined spaces to mitigate potential safety issues.
Project managers or supervisors must issue a Permit to Work application as part of the up-front planning process. It’s an opportunity for project leaders to integrate health and safety protocol into upcoming tasks and convert pre-project risk assessments and method statements into a safe working approach.
Some Permit To Work systems include ‘pre-permit’ capabilities, which ensure workers go through a series of checks before they can start a task. For example, checking Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is in place or that the area is safe to commence work.
For complete integration, many companies choose maintenance and facilities management systems with built-in Permit to Work templates, such as Shiresystem by Elecosoft.
2. They define when (and by whom) high high-risk activities are carried out
What separates a Permit to Work from a general risk assessment is the level of detail it includes. Permit to Work applications define the processes to follow when starting or completing a specific task, which person(s) are authorised to carry out the task, and when that task should begin and conclude. The project manager must assign this information before work can begin.
Providing this level of detail ensures greater control over higher-risk activities to minimise health and safety violations. For example, managers can assign higher-risk tasks to their most experienced contractors or team members. A Permit to Work can also stipulate that people working on a particular task have the relevant qualifications/certifications needed to complete the job effectively.
A Permit to Work application could also define the best times to complete tasks. For instance, many companies stipulate that hot works and electrical works must be completed at least one hour before the end of the day to minimise the risk of a fire breaking out while the site is unattended. Having CMMS/CAFM and Permit To Work capabilities in one system means this scheduling is greatly simplified.
3. Permit to Work formalises safety procedures
Most professionals like to think they work safely. However, the only way to guarantee consistent safety procedures is to spell them out in black and white, then make sure the person doing the work acknowledges they have done it by signing on the dotted line. A Permit to Work achieves this by defining the safety procedures for your most complex and dangerous activities.
Permit to Work applications set standard procedures to follow at all times. For example, mandating fire-protective clothing or making an area fire safe. However, they can also include conditional safety procedures such as stopping outdoor work at height during windy and stormy weather conditions.
Applications can also outline what to do in an accident or emergency, incorporating key points of contact and their contact details.
4. They help your teams to check work thoroughly
Most of the points we’ve raised so far concern initial planning. However, a Permit to Work application can deliver value throughout project execution (and afterwards).
With a formally documented process, supervisors and project managers can easily check whether procedures are followed to the letter. Everything can be monitored and signed off in real-time to confirm that safety protocols were consistently followed. An audit trail ensures full end-to-end compliance is achievable.
Permit to Work applications also make it easier to spot when there’s an issue so that safety breaches can be identified, documented and corrected as soon as possible. This often stops minor problems from snowballing into major health and safety breaches.
5. Permit to Work provides a trustworthy, traceable record of work
As Permit to Work applications are task-specific, they provide companies with a clear and trusted record of what activities were carried out when, by whom, and in what circumstances. If there’s a query later, you can swiftly answer any questions.
Permit to Work applications are easiest to track when integrated into wider task management software. For example, ShireSystem includes a Permit to Work module, so you can define procedures for specific tasks within your overall maintenance schedule and even add them to planned preventative maintenance schedules automatically.
With ShireSystem, Permit to Work data is stored securely via the cloud so it can be accessed by system administrators or managers at any time. Even if a permit has only just been completed. Choosing an integrated solution also means you can schedule work orders and create associated permits within a single dashboard, reducing management overheads, minimising paperwork, and maximising workforce efficiency.