Contractor and Permits to Work (PTW)



A crucial factor in ensuring workplace health and safety revolves around contractors and permits to work (PTW), which every employer must consider and make provision for.

A permit to work system is a system which is formal and written, used to control certain types of work which may present potential hazards. The permit to work is subsequently a document which specifies the work which must be done, the hazards identified (whether potential or existing), and the precautions that must be taken in preventing an accident or incident from occurring.

Permits to work form a crucial part of safety systems of work for numerous activities. They allow for work to start only after the safe procedures have been defined. They also provide a clear record of all foreseeable hazards which have been considered, and the actions to mitigate or control them.


General Principles

Some of the following aspects must be considered where Permit to Work Systems are concerned:

  • Human factors
  • Management of the system
  • Poorly skilled workforce
  • Unconscious as well as conscious incompetence
  • The objectives of the system
  • The types of work permit required, and
  • Content of the work permits.

Contractor and Permits to Work (PTW)

Which issues could contribute towards major accidents, incidents, or hazards?

  • If the site safety management system fails.
  • Failure in recognizing a hazard either before or during maintenance.
  • Failure in complying with the work permit system in hazardous environments, and
  • Failure in communicating the use of the work permit system.


Why must contractors use a work permit?

Contractors are often used to conduct tasks where specialised skill is required, such work could have the potential of causing serious injuries, or even death. It is for this reason that it is imperative to formalize agreed-upon work procedures.

This prevents that instructions are missed, forgotten, or misinterpreted. It also serves as a checklist to ensure that all hazards, protective measures, work procedures, and general requirements are complied with, reviewed with, and understood by the assigned contractor and their employees.

The permit to work also serves as a record associated with authorization and completion of the specific task or work. The authorization must be provided by a competent person after the necessary and required conditions have been met.


Types of Permit to Work

There are several types of work where a permit to work will be required.


Hot Work

This can be described where there is cutting and welding operations involving the use of portable gas or arc welding equipment. It can involve soldering, grinding, or any other related activities that produce sparks, flames, or heat.


Cold Work

This permit to work is required for activities involving:

  • Chemical cleaning or where solvents are used.
  • Handling of hazardous substances.
  • The use of resins which are used during blade repairs.
  • Painting activities.
  • Heavy lifting.
  • The erection or dismantling of scaffolding, and numerous others.

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Electrical Work

The electrical permit to work serves as the statement that the circuit or the item on the equipment is safe to work on. A permit cannot be issued on the equipment if it is live. This permit applies any time that work must be performed on or near electrical equipment in an energized state.


Confined Spaces

These entry certificates are used to specify precautions which must be taken to eliminate exposure to dangerous fumes or to an oxygen-depleted atmosphere before the employee may enter the confined space.

This certificate must confirm that the space is free from dangerous fumes and/or asphyxiating gases. It must also recognize the potential or possibility that fumes can desorb from residues, oxygen depletion of the atmosphere as result of oxidation, or the ingress of airborne contaminants originating from adjacent sources.


Isolation Certificate

This may be like machinery or electrical certificates or permits to works. It serves the purpose of ensuring that the equipment is mechanically and electrically isolated before work is conducted.


Radiation Certificates

These outline the necessary control measures to minimize the risk of exposure to radioactive sources which includes the inspection of the site, controls on source exposure, access, containment barriers, and radiance monitoring.


How can SafetyWallet help Employers and Contractors’ Health and Safety Compliance?

SafetyWallet works to ensure that its subscribers are supported and assisted in all matters relating to health and safety, and through a partnership with MAKROSAFE and OHS Online, subscribers can ensure that they are a part in creating a safer, healthier, and more compliant working environment. To find out how you can ensure employer and contractor’s Health and Safety compliance, see Contact Us

Posted date: 20th Mar 2021