Permit to Work (PTW) systems are formal procedures used to control activities that are considered high-risk. They often form part of a business’s Control of Work strategy and are key to frontline worker safety. PTWs allow only authorised personnel to perform those activities at specified times and in a way set out in the permit and referenced documents. A PTW is very similar to the Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS), used in Australia. With such documentation in place, a business can limit the effects of human error, eliminate surprise hazards and coordinate the approach to risk across the entire job site.
Organizations carry a burden of proof to showcase that they have effectively assessed a person’s competency to perform a high-risk task as well as the proper training and documentation of that training has occurred. PTW provides this documentation and are particularly important for third-party contractors.
A permit to work generally contains a description of the job to be done, hazards and precautions as well as any authorizations required. Every PTW system should cover processes to determine the scope of work at hand as well as clearly identify hazardous areas. The PTW system should also provide proper training, communication protocol for workers on and off site, and confirm a maximum allotted time to conduct hazardous tasks. Next, it should delineate clear responsibilities and authorize task assignees and supervisors to review PTW before commencing work. The supervisors should ensure that the permit information has been explained to all workers involved. After the task is accomplished hand back the audit to the supervisor for confirmation and future reference.
PTW templates are tools used by contractors and safety officers to ensure critical safety checks and emergency procedures are followed before hazardous work commences. Common tasks that require PTW forms are those with high safety risks including working in confined spaces, hot and cold work and electrical maintenance activities.