Prevent Accidents in the Workplace with a Modern Permit to Work (PTW) System
Blog | July 28th, 2022

Prevent Accidents in the Workplace with a Modern Permit to Work (PTW) System

Two million deaths and USD 1.25 trillion – this is the estimated cost of workplace hazards globally, according to an International Labour Organization report. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Nearly 160 million people suffer from work-related diseases, while work accidents (both fatal and non-fatal ones) are estimated to be 270 million a year.

While this is the bad news, the good news is that this can be reduced, if not completely eliminated, through the implementation of a proper environment, health and safety (EHS) management system, integrated with a permit-to-work (PTW) system to manage certain types of hazardous, high-risk tasks.

Often, accidents happen because unskilled or under-prepared employees or contractors end up working in highly hazardous conditions. To ensure only authorized personnel with the necessary permissions (and certifications) access high-risk zones, businesses must implement a Permit-to-Work system. Importantly, a PTW system also ensures that two possibly conflicting high-risk tasks don’t get scheduled simultaneously.

How does ComplianceQuest’s Permit-to-Work (PTW) Solution Help Reduce Accidents in the Workplace?

With ComplianceQuest’s Permit-to-Work solution, companies can ensure that employers, employees, and contractors are protected while working on high-risk tasks for a specific period of time with specific safety precautions.

It enables the process of taking necessary precautions before performing tasks like hot work, cold work, tasking involving electrical work, working in confined spaces, etc.

Some of the key features of the ComplianceQuest PTW solution include:

  • Ensuring safe working conditions for workers by enabling safety leaders to control and coordinate work
  • Visualizing high-risk zones and implementing risk controls as needed (across locations)
  • Facilitating collaboration between multiple teams and allowing the generation of composite PTWs where several different types of high-risk tasks may need to be completed at the same time, requiring multiple PTWs to be operational at the same time.
  • Generating, maintaining, and managing all the forms needed for the PTW to be generated. It also helps safety leaders to verify the skill levels of the workers, ensure the jobs are done on time and issue new forms in case an extension is needed.
  • Each task has its own set of precautions to be taken. The worker also may need to be given specific instructions. So, efficiently managing all that can be challenging for safety leaders. CQ helps with consistency and standardization to minimize variabilities and provides checklists to simplify the process.
  • Templatizing forms and automating the PTW workflow can help businesses improve their effectiveness and constantly fine-tune without difficulty. Managing the PTW is also important from a regulatory perspective. By automating the process, CQ helps with accessing the correct information when needed to prove compliance can also become easier.

The PTW system from ComplianceQuest is a cloud-based solution that facilitates easy collaboration between different departments. It makes document management efficient and provides visibility and transparency for better safety management. This helps reduce the number of accidents and make the workplace safer.

What is PTW and why is it More Relevant Today?

A written document called the Permit-to-Work authorization needs to be generated and handed to the authorized worker to perform certain types of jobs at specific locations within a specified period. It should also clearly define the preventive measures and the correct sequence in which a task must be carried out.

In brief, work permits can be described as control documents that define a task to be performed, the risks, and the controls needed.

There are many types of work permits, including:

  • Work at height permit
  • Hot work permit
  • Cold work permit
  • Excavation permit
  • Arc Flash permit
  • Critical load lifting work permit for working with lifting equipment

Permit-to-Work is used for other exceptional cases where the exposure to such risks is higher.

In today’s world where companies operate a network of factories around the world, deal with numerous suppliers and contractors, and perform tasks with agility, a well-defined PTW policy can be a game-changer from a safety perspective. It may, sometimes, feel like something that can be managed with e-mails and manual approval processes, but one simple mistake can result in a catastrophe.

How do Permit-to-Work Systems Prevent Accidents in the Workplace?

A standard Permit-to-Work System is aimed to mitigate the risks at the workplace by clearly describing the job and specifying the procedures and guidelines to perform tasks such as:

  • Inspection
  • Testing
  • Maintenance
  • Alternation
  • Repair

This reduces the chances of accidents such as fire, explosion, damage, or environmental harm.

Some of the key objectives of a Permit-to-Work include:

  • Assigning responsibilities to skilled workers
  • Facilitating communication between the different functions affected by the task
  • Identifying and implementing controls based on safety considerations, risks, and controls
  • Defining and authorizing work
  • Ensuring the worker is aware and capable of doing the task
  • Taking precautions by specifying the risks and briefing the personnel about the controls
  • Preparing the site to make it safer
  • Providing the worker with safety gear where needed
  • Not allowing unauthorized personnel in the area, and ensuring that the authorized personnel is in the location only for the specified period

What are the 5 Things Safety Leaders Must do to Make the Permit-to-Work System Effective?

Requirement #1: The permit-to-work must be issued only by the safety leader or the person in charge of the risk zone or section.

Requirement #2: Each type of job needs an exclusive permit to be issued. A composite permit may be issued if two risks exist in one zone – for instance, hot work inside a confined space. But otherwise, one permit should not list multiple jobs.

Requirement #3: The permits and clearances should be printed as forms. Duplicates or triplicates must be printed and, if required, numbered serially. Color coding different types of permits and clearances will make identifying the nature of the job faster.

Requirement #4: The form should clearly state the “Dos and Don’ts” for the specified tasks. This should be attached with each permit, duly read and signed by the worker and the leader. The safety guidelines specified in the form should be adhered to at the site.

Requirement #5: The form should specify the time duration, and the worker should stop work at the specified time. If work is delayed, a fresh permit should be generated.

The workplace should be prepared for the job to be carried out efficiently and effectively, with minimum risk to the worker. For instance, if it is electrical work, whether the mains need to be switched off, insulated, and so on should be ascertained, and precautions are taken. For /electrical and fire-related works, protective gear and fire extinguishers may be required.

Sufficient training and awareness of the risks and the skills needed to complete the work are also important. The Permit-to-Work may need to mention the necessary qualifications to perform the task and either train the staff or ensure they are competent.

The work permit system must also be reviewed periodically in case of any incidents, near misses or observations, or due to statuary requirements/norms.

Periodic auditing of the system by a cross-functional team will help ensure the system is performing as required or proactively identify and rectify errors.

ComplianceQuest’s PTW enables all this and more.

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