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Permits to Work

Hazard Related Topics


Permits-to-work are an essential part of safe working practice for construction and maintenance operations. The document should specify the work to be done and the precautions to be taken in carrying out the operation. They allow work to start only after safe procedures have been defined and they identify and record all foreseeable hazards that have been considered. In drafting permits-to-work an experience and expertise is required to ask the appropriate "what if" questions in order to identify potential hazards.

Tasks for Which a Permit-to-Work may be Required

Such tasks are usually of high risk, may be complex and may require specialised training of the persons carrying out the task. The sort of tasks which may require a permit-to-work are

  1. Electrical work.
  2. Pressure testing.
  3. Work in a confined space.
  4. Scaffolding.
  5. Work on excavations.
  6. Welding or other hot work.
  7. Mechanical (maintenance).

Requirements of the Permit-to-Work System

A competent and experienced manager should be authorised to draw up the notice of permit-to-work. This should identify:

  1. The work process involved.
  2. The location of the work.
  3. The procedures to be followed in issuing the permit-to-work.
  4. Notifications to all others about restrictions of access or any other limitations.

An authorised person must be appointed and recorded to control the permit-to-work. They must be competent, qualified and fully conversant with the procedures to be adhered to in carrying out their responsibilities. The content of the permit-to-work will depend to some extent on the task to be carried out but most will include:

  • A unique permit number.
  • Date and time of issue.
  • Duration of the permit-to-work.
  • The precise location of the work.
  • A full description of the hazard and the foreseeable risks.
  • The required precautionary measures.
  • Details of any emergency procedures.
  • Signature of the person in charge of the work acknowledging his understanding of the work and its hazards and precautions.
  • Signature of the person in charge of the work to indicate the completion or part completion of the work.
  • The cancellation of the permit-to-work by an authorised person.