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A Guide to Permit-to-Work in Critical Industries

Braden Lewis

In this article, we will be exploring a comprehensive guide to permits-to-work, why they’re important for critical industries, and how to manage them effectively.

Health and safety policies are standard in all workplaces for ensuring the well-being of workers and the smooth operation of any job, regardless of the level of risk involved. However, there are certain occupations that carry a much greater level of risk, even with standard safety measures in place. 

To mitigate these risks and ensure a safer work environment for personnel in hazardous conditions, permit-to-work (PTW) systems are put in place before any work can be carried out. 

In this article, we will be exploring a comprehensive guide to permits-to-work, why they’re important for critical industries, and how to manage them effectively.

What is a permit-to-work (PTW)?

According to HSE, permits-to-work (PTW) are documented procedures used to control high-risk activities.

They are usually issued by a manager or supervisor and set out the precautions required to complete work safely, based on a risk assessment.

These permits authorise certain staff members to carry out high-risk work at a specific time and place, providing that the procedures detailed in the permit and any referenced documents are followed.

What is a permit-to-work used for?

A permit-to-work is used to identify the following areas:

  • What will be done and how it will be done (method statement/work procedure).
  • The hazards involved.
  • The preparation necessary.
  • The precautions or protective measures to be taken.
  • The work procedures.
  • Authorising certain people to carry out specific work within a specified timeframe.
  • Declarations from the people authorising the work, carrying out the work and all involved in the work task/project.
  • A declaration from the permit originator that work has been completed or the equipment/machinery etc. being worked on is ready for normal use.
PRINTABLE ISSOW permit to work isolation tags

What hazards do permits-to-work help mitigate?

A permit to work should be used when there is danger from any of the following hazards:

  • Pressure systems.
  • Restricted access, exit and movement.
  • Toxic substances.
  • Sparks from open flames, welding, cutting, furnaces, etc.
  • Explosive, corrosive, or toxic gases or atmospheres.
  • Radioactive materials.
  • Temperature extremes.
  • Steam or other hot materials.
  • Electricity and other energy sources.
  • Accidental start-up of mechanical equipment.
  • Oxygen deficiency or oxygen enrichment.
  • Suffocation or drowning. 

What are the different types of permit-to-work?

The various types of permits are:

  1. Hot Work Permits - These permits are necessary for tasks that involve heat generation capable of igniting gases, vapours, or dust particles and may pose a fire hazard. Examples of hot work tasks include welding, flame cutting, and metal drilling.
  2. Safety Permits - These permits are required for tasks involving the use of steam, water, air, or electricity. They are also needed when repair or maintenance work involves locking out energy sources.
  3. Entry Permits - These permits are used when workers need to enter and work in confined spaces like silos used in cereal manufacturing, tanks, or pits. Depending on the nature of the work, this permit may be combined with other permits.
  4. Unique Permits - These permits are issued for work involving hazardous conditions like working near radioactive materials, working at heights, or carrying out specialized tasks.
  5. General Permits - These permits are issued for highly hazardous tasks of a more general nature that are not covered by the permits listed above.
permit to work - hot work permits

Why is permit-to-work important for high-risk industries?

Critical industries such as construction, manufacturing, and oil and gas involve dangerous materials, equipment, or processes that can pose serious risks to personnel if not properly managed. 

Permit-to-work systems help ensure that these risks are identified, assessed, and mitigated before work begins, reducing the likelihood of accidents, injuries, and fatalities. By requiring permits to be obtained before work can commence, these systems promote safety and provide a structured approach to managing risk. This is essential for critical industries where even minor incidents can have significant consequences.

Log all permits-to-work on ISSOW-compatible safety tags

Get yours here permits-to-work on ISSOW-compatible safety tags

What are some effective strategies for businesses to implement and manage permit-to-work systems?

Effective implementation and management of permit-to-work systems require a systematic approach that involves several key steps. Here are some important considerations to help businesses implement and manage permit-to-work systems effectively:

  1. Identify the types of work that require permits: The first step is to identify the tasks or activities that require permits based on the nature of the work, the level of risk involved, and relevant legislation and regulations.
  2. Develop a permit-to-work system: The system should include a process for obtaining permits, risk assessments, approvals, and declarations. It should also define roles and responsibilities, training requirements, and reporting procedures.
  3. Log all permits-to-work on ISSOW-compatible safety tags: ISSOW (Integrated Safe System of Work) software is a comprehensive safety management system designed to improve safety standards in industrial operations. A feature of this software is its ability to log permits-to-work, allowing personnel to have full visibility of safety management procedures. Investing in ISSOW-compatible safety tags is an efficient way to ensure PTW systems are maintained.
  4. Provide training: All personnel involved in the permit-to-work system should receive appropriate training to ensure that they understand the system's requirements and their roles and responsibilities.
  5. Conduct regular audits and reviews: Regular audits and reviews of the permit-to-work system are essential to ensure that it remains effective, relevant, and up-to-date. Any issues or areas for improvement should be identified and addressed promptly.
  6. Monitor compliance: Compliance monitoring is essential to ensure that the permit-to-work system is being followed correctly. This involves checking that permits have been obtained, risk assessments have been carried out, and declarations have been made.
  7. Promote a safety culture: Permit-to-work systems are most effective when they are supported by a strong safety culture. Businesses should promote a safety-first attitude, encourage reporting of near-misses and incidents, and ensure that safety is a top priority at all levels of the organization.

For more information on permit-to-work, or to discuss workplace safety solutions, talk to REGALTAGS

The importance of permits-to-work in critical industries can’t be emphasised enough.

It is vital that businesses in critical industries understand the significance of permit-to-work systems and implement them effectively to mitigate risks and ensure a safe working environment.

At REGALTAGS, we believe every safety process is important and unique, and work hard to provide you with the best solutions possible. Our ISSOW-compatible isolation tags are printable, and compatible with most mainstream ISSOW software, allowing you to manage all permits-to-work securely and safely.

Not only are our tags compatible with ISSOW software, but they are also UV-resistant and tear-proof ensuring complete reliability even in the harshest conditions.

 If you require any more information on permit-to-work systems or have a question about our safety signs and tag range, contact a member of our team today.


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