A permit-to-work system is a formal written system used to control certain types of work that are potentially very hazardous. The permit-to-work specifies the work to be done and the precautions to be taken. Permits to work form an essential part of safe systems of work for particularly hazardous maintenance activities. They allow work to start only after the hazards have been considered and eliminated or controlled by identifying and defining safe procedures that will not create additional hazards. The system also provides a record that the hazards and risks have been systematically considered and eliminated. To be effective a permit-to-work system has to be carefully and closely managed. In operation it is only as good as the management effort put into it.

  • Examples of hazards and activities that might require the use of a formal permit-to-work system include:entry into closed vessels and confined spaces.
  • breaking into pipelines that contain flammable or hazardous substances.
  • hot work on plant that has contained flammable or hazardous substances.
  • work on electrical distribution systems and high voltage installations.
  • complex automated machinery where action or adjustment of one part of the machine may produce an action some distance away or where there may be stored hydraulic, pneumatic or mechanical energy systems.

The permit-to-work will define the work to be done and identify the control measures required for that work. The permit to work cannot be a generic document because it applies for one job only and is a result of the consideration of the specific job to be done, identifying precisely what is to be done, where it will be done, how it is to be done and who is authorised to do it.

Because they relate to hazardous work activities where risks to people or plant are highpermit-to-work systems are necessarily complicated and require careful management and very close supervision. Peninsula Business Services is able to supply forms that can be used to create a permit to work; supporting guidance is also available. The forms are available on request through our 24 Hour Advice Service.