Online Induction >> What is a Permit to Work?

What is a Permit to Work?

In any workplace it is important to always maintain occupational health and safety guidelines. However, from time to time there are jobs that need to be done outside of those parameters. This is where the 'Permit to work' systems come in. They allow hazardous work to be completed whilst reducing the risks that these sorts of jobs come with. Some examples of when to use a permit include when there is excessive heat present at the job site, needing to work in confined spaces, working in flammable areas, work that requires the isolation of electricity or other potentially dangerous substances. Permit to work systems help to restrict dangerous or hazardous work to those who know how to do it.

What is required for a work permit?

The permit to work system is a system that details all of the considerations that must be undertaken in order to perform hazardous work. The permit promotes that the bearer is aware of the risks and knows and understands the work that needs to be undertaken. The permit needs to comply with the policies and procedures of the company/site.

In order to be effective, work permits need to have several pieces of information such as:

- The title of the permit
- Location of where the job is going to take place
- Who has authorized it
- The actual job that is required, what is needed to do it and who is going to be involved.
- What safeguards are going to need to be in place, for the job to be done correctly.
- What other people need to be notified of the work? This is not just those that are in the area, this also includes any people that may be affected by the work. For example, this could be people that need to move through the area that is being worked on or if the job required the electricity to be turned off then those that need to use it should be notified.
- What is the validity period of the permit? Can the permit be extended and if so how?
- How will it be confirmed that the work has been completed successfully and the worksite returned to a sufficient safe standard?

What should you check to make sure that your permit to work system is suitable?

Permit to work systems are designed to reduce hazards and risks within a workplace. However, the mere absence of any accidents (serious or otherwise) is not enough proof to believe that your workplace is going well. With this in mind it is important to check through and update as necessary your work permits and relevant policies. For this it is important to consider:

- Do your employees understand the importance of the permits and why they are used?
- What sort of jobs are they used for?
- What responsibilities are required of those involved?
- Do people know who can authorise them? Who is responsible for specifying the necessary precautions? Who is able to authorise the work?
- Is there a procedure(s) for what to do if an emergency arises? Either at the worksite or separate yet stills threatens the work area.
- Is the permit itself able to be read and understood easily? Does it accurately communicate the job required? This is particularly important as one of the primary reasons for the form is to adequately communicate the work that is to take place, it's dangers and who and what will be affected.
- Is it versatile? Does it cover as many scenarios as possible? If the form isn't adequate for the job, then it could pose unnecessary risks for the completion of the job. Permits need to be designed around the site that they are for. As each place will have differences it is important that the permit is tailored to the particularity of the site that it is used at.
- Are there provisions in place if the job covers a shift change and new staff are coming on? or the shift needs to be extended in order for the work to be completed?

When don't you need a permit?

Any work that is routine or requires a change in operational modes or happens on a regular basis. An example of this is if the work being undertaken does not involve interfering with equipment in any way or offer a potential issue such as an ignition source, then it is okay to not have a permit.

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