Permits to work will often be found in high-risk industries, but what is their purpose?

A permit to work system is a formal documented system, used to control high-risk activities. They are usually issued by a manager or supervisor and allow a person or group of people to carry out a task, under strict controls.

Permits will authorize certain personnel to carry out high-risk work at a specific time, providing that the procedures detailed in the permit are followed. Permits to work are likely to be required for activities such as electrical works, hot works, excavations, work at height and confined space works.

So how do permits to work ensure safety?

  • A manager or supervisor will give written permission to carry out a task
  • Ensure every aspect of the work is planned
  • Make sure every aspect of the work is checked
  • Communicate health and safety information
  • Provide control procedure in place
  • Return the area to a safe state on completion of the work
  • Give a means of communication and written record

Types of Work Permit:

  • Hot Work Permit – Authorization to perform tasks in conditions that produce sparks, flames, or any other source of ignition.
  • Excavation Permit – Authorization for personnel to mine or dig land to build infrastructure, extract resources, etc.
  • Work-at-Height Permit – Authorization to work on elevated spaces e.g. ladders, scaffolds, Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (MEWP), and other spaces that are elevated.
  • Electrical Isolation Permit – Authorization to work in high voltage zones. Common electrical isolation work is to manage and maintain lockout/tagout systems.
  • Confined Spaces Work Permit – Authorization to perform tasks in a narrow space that is prone to hazards like asphyxiation, fire, toxic atmosphere, etc.

In order for the permit to work and fulfill its purpose, it needs to cover all the legal requirements and strict adherence to the procedures by all workers.