What is a Permit to Work System?

Permit to Work or PTW is a standard operational procedure used by organisations to issue documented permission to personnel to perform tasks that are considered hazardous or non-routine. A Permit-to-Work system should be adapted to specific site requirements.

A permit to work form consists of specific instructions of the nature of the job, the time and place along with adequate information of critical safety procedures to follow.

A valid permit to work document, whether paper-based or digitized should essentially have the following:

  • Sufficient authorizations from assigned personnel throughout the management.
  • Roles and responsibilities for a given task.
  • Clearly define hazards that workers may face along with the necessary precautionary actions to take.
  • Precise description of the task along with a timeline, scope of work and clear instructions on how to perform the given task.
  • An elaborate set of safety assessmentprotocols including site audit check, safety equipment check, safety training of personnel check, and more such safety checks which varies according to the type of job.
  • A record to indicate the status of the work permit – be it closed, cancelled, revoked, re-issued, etc.

Types of Work Permits

There are 7 main types of work permits that are categorized depending on the nature of the job and what your organization does. They are:

Hot Work Permit

Authorization to perform tasks in conditions that produce sparks, flames or any other source of ignition. Examples include welding, soldering, flammable gases and other heat inducing operations.

Cold Work Permit

Authorization to operate machinery or other functions that do not generate any form of heat in the manufacturing process. Mechanically induced bending, shearing, squeezing and drawing are some examples of Cold work.

Working at Height Permit

Authorization to work on elevated spaces (2m from the ground) be it ladders, scaffolds, Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (MEWP) and other spaces that are off the ground.

Confined Space Work Permit

Authorisation to perform tasks in a narrow space which is prone to hazards like asphyxiation, a substance that has the ability to engulf, toxic atmosphere, etc. Confined spaces refer to vents, shafts, sewages, tanks and much more.

Excavation Permit

Authorization for personnel to mine or dig land in order to build infrastructure, extract resources or unearth hidden artifacts. The risk involved in excavation includes falling, being trapped, explosions, airborne contaminants, etc.

Chemical Work Permit

Authorization to work with harmful chemical substances or in a chemically induced atmosphere that is either toxic or corrosive by nature. Chemical engineers that mostly work in chemical plants and labs.

Electrical Isolation Permit

Authorization to work in high voltage zones that are prone to uncontrolled dispersion of electricity. Common electrical isolation work is to manage and maintain Lock-out systems and site maintenance by electrical engineers.