HealthJuly 24, 2018

Permit to Work: The Challenges and Opportunities

I’ll start with a few words about me. My name is David Rocha and I started at Enablon in November 2017 as the Product Manager for our Occupational Safety and Health solutions. I worked in the Oil and Gas industry for the last 10 years before joining Enablon.

This post aims to introduce the topic of Permit to Work. I’ll write more posts about the topic, so keep following our blog. Let’s start with the basics and answer the question “What is a permit to work?” You may have also heard the term “safe work permit”, but they’re the same thing.

What is Permit to Work?

A permit to work is a document that includes a description of the work to be performed, hazards included, precautions to take, required authorizations, and other information. It is a written record authorizing a specific work at a specific location, and for a specific time. A permit to work is used to make sure that critical safety information is identified, communicated, and understood by workers. Confined space entry is a good example of a type of task where permits are necessary.

The Objectives of a Permit to Work System

Historically, permit to work systems evolved from hazardous industries as a best practice for managing hazardous activities such as hot work or confined space entry. The system is designed to ensure that risks are assessed for each job activity and the authorization process provides a means to coordinate work activities to prevent risks created by simultaneous operations. In summary, organizations aim to achieve the following objectives with permit to work systems:

  • Create a process to manage hazardous work safely.
  • Create a process that integrates risk assessments, hazardous energy isolations (lockout/tagout), and permit coordination.
  • Ensure work is scoped and risk is analyzed.
  • Gain real-time visibility to coordinate activity.
  • Obtain data to optimize processes and conduct investigative work.

Challenges and Opportunities

Companies implementing electronic permit to work systems must be careful in ensuring the process does not become a back-office activity. It needs to still be executed by those performing the work, who need to recognize the hazards and adhere to permit controls.

EHS managers have the challenge of continuing to drive improvements in safety but they’re also under pressure to make sure that they don’t undermine operational efficiency. EHS managers must therefore look at smart and simple solutions to often complex issues.

The good thing about challenges is that they give rise to opportunities. The opportunity is to improve the process for people directly in the field who are actually using permits, through solutions that empower them.

At Enablon, we recognized the opportunity to make permit to work a simpler, faster and more effective process, so we turned to our most trusted and advanced source our knowledge: our community of industry-leading customers.

Over the next few weeks, I will publish additional posts that explain how we combined successfully our skills with the innovative spirit of the Enablon client community to develop and introduce a new solution to better manage permit to work, and the benefits that it produces for organizations.

Stay tuned!

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