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An effective Permit to Work system is easy to achieve when you understand and implement the corresponding processes.

1. What tasks require a Permit to Work?

Any non-routine task that has the potential to adversely affect the health or safety of people should not be performed without a Permit to Work. However, if such tasks need to be performed regularly and frequently (e.g. by operators), they may not be subject to a Permit to Work, provided arrangements have been put in place to ensure they are consistently carried out in a safe manner (e.g. by means of detailed work instructions and thorough training).

Any tasks that require a Permit to Work should be documented in work instructions, including details for specific locations, departments, time of day, etc.

In addition, where required, a job safety analysis or equivalent should be prepared and used for hazardous activities. It is also important in circumstances where:

  • There is no procedure for the activity; or
  • It is not an activity that is routinely carried out; or
  • There is a procedure, but a change of circumstances (e.g. using new plant, weather conditions, etc.) that means the procedure is no longer sufficient.

Include an assessment of the potential risks associated with the activity along with any additional risks in the job safety analysis.

2. Who has the authorisation to issue a Permit to Work?

Persons who may issue Permits to Work should be properly trained in hazard identification, assessment and control.

All such persons should be authorised in completing Permits to Work should be trained and competent. Records of such training and competency should be also maintained.

Potential Hazards

Before issuing a permit to work, the issuer should consider all potential hazards. This should include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Material hazards, such as Hazardous Substances and Dangerous Goods
  • High pressure
  • Temperature, including work in hot or cold locations
  • Fumes
  • Electrical hazards
  • Mechanical energy
  • Hazardous areas
  • Height
  • Radioactive substances
  • Restricted space or vision
  • Any other hazard, which may apply to a particular task, location, or time of day.
  • Precautions

The permit to work should clearly specify the precautions and hazard control measures, which need to be employed. This may include:

  • Physical isolation
  • Electrical isolation
  • Decontamination
  • Precautions for working in confined spaces
  • Precautions for hot work
  • Precautions for working at heights
  • Precautions for excavation work
  • Precautions for work on High Voltage Equipment
  • Precautions for abrasive blasting work
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to be used
  • Any other special precautions.

3. Where should the Permit to Work be registered?

The Issuer should ensure that all Permits to Work are registered in the Permit to Work register.

Responsible managers should check the register at the end of each work period (day or shift) and resolve each Permit to Work which has not been closed.

4. Who can attain a Permit to Work?

The Issuer of the Permit to Work should ensure that the persons assigned to perform the work are qualified and properly trained.

All hazards and control measures should be explained to the persons assigned to the job prior to the commencement of the work. Subsequently, precautions and personal protective equipment must be understood and used by the workers.

5. How does the Permit for Work apply to Plant and Machinery?

When work is required to be carried out on plant or machinery, the Permit to Work system should ensure that:

  • Appropriate people are authorised to carry out the designated work. This may be a specific type of work, or any type of work in a specific area;
  • The people carrying out the work are clear about the exact identity, nature and extent of the job and the hazards involved, including any specified limitations on the extent of the work and the time during which the job may be carried out;
  • The precautions which need to be taken, including safe isolation from potential risks such as electricity and hazardous substances, have been specified;
  • The person in direct charge of the plant or in charge of the area where the plant is located, is aware of all the work being done under the Permit to Work system;
  • A system of continuous control is in place;
  • A record showing the nature of the work and the precautions needed which is checked by a competent person or people;
  • The relevant permits are suitably displayed;
  • A procedure for times when work has to be suspended in place and used;
  • A cross-referencing of permits for work activities that may interact or affect one another is utilised;
  • A formal handover procedure for use when the permit is issued for a period longer than one shift in place; and
  • A formal hand back to operations procedure is in place to ensure that part of the plant affected by the work is in a safe condition and ready for reinstatement.

6. What occurs at the completion of work?

Once a Permit to Work has been issued, the work should be carried out as specified in the permit. At the completion of the job, the permit should be returned to the Issuer and closed.

This should be registered in the permit to work register and all Permits to Work records should be kept for a period of 2 years.

General advice warning

The information on this site is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs or circumstances into consideration. You should look at your own situation and requirements before making any decisions.

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