An efficient permit to work & site access approval process is a vital component in your worksite risk management strategy and ensuring you meet the following key worksite requirements:
- Meeting compliance requirements for relevant regulations
- Maintaining a safe and orderly work environment
- Managing risks with non-routine and unplanned work
This guide provides 7 tips that you can use to improve your Permit to Work process today.
1. Application Forms – Fit for Purpose
No two sites are the same, and no two companies have the same risks.
Whilst a quick ‘permit to work template’ Google search is going to give you a good starting point, you’ll need to make sure that the form(s) you use are tailored for your organisation’s needs.
If you are already using Permit to Work Software for your permit process, or are planning on utilising it in the future; make sure the software you use has a flexible form builder so you can capture the information relevant to your organisation. An agile solution will allow you to manage changes as a result of ongoing system reviews in a timely and cost-effective manner.
2. Capturing the Right Work Permit Application Data
Not capturing the right data in your application can have negative consequences on the ability of:
- Approvers to review applications efficiently
- HSE staff to monitor risks and safety hazards
- Site managers to schedule work
- Security to monitor site access
Here’s a list of the key information you will most likely need to capture:
- Applicant Details: Who will be conducting the work
- Site Location Details: Important if you have multiple sites
- Work Location Details: Where onsite will the work occur?
- Description of Work: What work is being carried out
- Time: When will work start and finish?
- Impairments: Do building services & automatic protection systems need to be isolated when performing works?
- Work Hazards: What hazards are associated with the work being carried out?
- Permits & Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS): does the contractor have all the necessary documentation to prove they are able to carry out the work safely? For example, a Hot Work Permit
Depending on your business and site requirements, there will likely be other information that you will need to capture.
3. High-Risk Work
Capturing information on high-risk work activities is critical for risk management & meeting regulation requirements.
High-Risk Work Activities
- Confined Spaces
- Working at Height
- Hot Works
- Work involving Asbestos
- Isolations involving electrical, hydraulic & stored energy services
- Forklift, EWP & Mechanical Lifting Operations
- Scaffolding & Rigging
- Structural alteration requiring temporary support
- Work in a flammable atmosphere
If your site requires any of the above activities, then you should consider if high-risk work has a different approval process to follow.
Are there additional permit applications or certifications required that your staff and contractors need to obtain? These should be included in the original PTW submission.
It’s important to capture the work that your staff and contractors are going to perform so you have visibility over high-risk activities and how they will impact a work site.
4. Permit to Work Approval Processes & Workflow
Make sure your approval process is clear for contractors and approvers. Providing contractors with clear information on the approval process will help minimise follow up questions and reduce strain on your business resources.
When you are mapping out your PTW process, investigate what will happen after the contractor submits a Permit to Work, Authority to Work or site access request form:
- Who is the approver and how are they notified?
- Are there multiple approvers (HSE, Security) for different types of work?
- Does the process change depending on the worksite?
- Who needs to be notified about impairments and high-risk activities?
After the approval process has been completed, how are the following communications managed?
- Approval & Rejection notification
- Rescheduled Work
Another component to factor into your process is how you will deal with urgent work requiring immediate site access, e.g. spills. There are ways around this, for example, having security escort a contractor on-site at all times, but this is a waste of resources and not always feasible if you only have one guard manning a site.
A properly defined process allows you to process and escalate permits efficiently. This is particularly relevant with software management systems that can store site induction accreditation & worker qualification data allowing for much faster processing of permits.
Regardless of whether you are using paper, email or an online system, you need to map out your workflow to ensure an efficient process.
5. Site Supervisor & Security Visibility
Your site supervisors, duty managers & security staff may have 100’s of staff and contractors going through a site in any given week. It’s important to give them visibility over PTW approvals so they can plan and monitor their activities accordingly.
Regardless of whether you use a streamlined system or a paper-based system, make sure that your site managers have up to date information at all times.
6. Communication Flows
It’s important to keep all stakeholders informed so that they can plan accordingly and includes contractors, staff & site managers.
If your HSE manager needs to approve high-risk work, or your site supervisor needs to be notified about urgent activities, then make sure your communications lines are set in place so they don’t miss important messages.
Software systems allow you to automate many of these tasks. If you use a spreadsheet or paper-based systems, ensure staff are adequately trained to notify the right people at the right time.
7. Keep Agile
Permit processes will change as a site’s lifecycle changes from the construction phase to the as-built maintenance phase and beyond.
New information needs to be captured and new risks identified. Whether you are using a paper-based system or an online system, make sure you have the ability to change your forms & workflows so you can keep you permit process up to date.
Schedule periodic reviews to ensure the system is capturing the right data and operating efficiently.
- Are you capturing new risks and hazards
- Have staff or stakeholders changed or have their requirements changed?
- Refer to your site managers and identify site issues & conflicts that could have been avoided
- Are contractors completing the request forms correctly, can improvements be made?
- Is the approval process being completed in a timely manner? Is there a hold-up, i.e. approvers not being notified of new requests?
Implement changes to the system and remember to review them in your next scheduled system review.
If you’d like to find out how some of Australia’s top businesses are managing their permit process, you can request a free demonstration with Automation Technologies today.