Permit to work. Guidance to all relevant parties on the correct procedure (PTW) 



When considering the health and safety requirements in which both employees and employers have a duty, there may still be some health and safety hazards and risks that cannot be reduced or eliminated. For this reason, there must be a permit to work system in place which is effective.

The purpose of the sections below is to provide guidance for employers and contractors on Permit to Work (PTW) Systems and the various responsibilities associated with them.


Responsibilities in Permit to Work Systems

The employer along with the occupier of the site and the duty holder have an overall responsibility to ensure that there is a proper and effective permit to work system developed, and that it is followed.

However, everyone who carries out work, whether it is contractors, subcontractors, and all employees, have responsibilities and duties under a permit to work system. It is therefore imperative that every person is trained and that they know what their responsibilities are so that they can be carried out properly.


Employer or duty holder

The occupier of the site along with the duty holder must ensure that:

  • There is a senior manager assigned with the responsibility to ensure that an effective permit to work system is introduced and developed.
  • That the appropriate procedures are established and that they are maintained for work to be done under the permit to work system.
  • That arrangements are made for employees to be made aware of the permits and the associated system, and that employees are trained.
  • That the permit to work system is monitored to ensure its continued effectiveness, and to ensure that it is applied correctly.
  • To ensure that the permit to work system is frequently audited and reviewed.
  • That copies of the permits, or the records of their issue, are kept for a specified period. This enables effective auditing and/or incident investigation.
  • That there are enough resources provided that enable the proper implementation of the permit to work system.

Permit originators, permit authorisers, or area authorities

As part of their duties, as assigned by the site occupier, the person or persons in these roles must ensure that the abovementioned arrangements are in place. The following roles must also be fulfilled, and the requirements adhered to, as delegated to persons in this capacity:

  • That all work that will need a permit to work is identified.
  • That the permit contains a clear description of the work that must be done along with its location, start time, and duration.
  • That permits for work activities which may interact with, or affect, other site activities are controlled.
  • That all other work which may create a hazard when it is conducted at the same time is suspended and made safe.
  • That limitations on the timing as well as the scope of work are identified. Actions must also be taken if a site emergency arises.
  • All personnel who are involved in the preparation of permits, who are responsible for supervision and the conducting of the task, are identified and that they are competent.
  • That enough information is provided to oncoming shifts regarding work for which a permit was issued and the work has not yet been completed.
  • That all personnel, including contractors, who work within the permit system have enough knowledge as well as the necessary competency to perform their duties.

It is crucial that a competent person, or area authority, be appointed to coordinate as well as control the issue and return of permits. This person must posses an overview of all ongoing operations and that which is planned, to avoid any hazards caused where there are activities overlapping.

They are responsible for coordination and control, either by controlling the issue and return of permits or by appointing an appropriate person with enough authority to carry this function out on their behalf.


Contractor and subcontractor management

Contracting companies must ensure that:

  • All employees understand the principles associated with permit to work systems.
  • All employees understand the permit to work systems and that other arrangements may apply to certain locations at which they, or their employees, are to conduct work.
  • All performing authorities as well as permit users are trained and that they understand permit to work systems and any other specific arrangements made for a task, area, or location in which they will work.
  • That records of trained performing authorities are updated and kept.


Responsible authority

This person must ensure the following:

  • That all hazards associated with the proposed work have been identified and addressed.
  • That all steps necessary to ensure the safety of the site have been identified.
  • That the work site has been examined and the necessary precautions are taken before work starts.
  • The performing authority is aware of the precautions and any other precautions taken.
  • Work activities which may interact with, or affect, each other are identified and that conflict is avoided.
  • That people are aware of the duration of the permit along with action to be taken if work is suspended.
  • That copies of the permits are displayed in appropriate locations.
  • That the work site is examined at any time when work is suspended, before it is restarted, and when the work has been completed.
  • That the shift hand-over procedure is followed
  • That precautions and isolations are withdrawn once the work has been completed, and
  • That the area authority has acknowledge the return of operations.

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Supervisors, whether they are employed by the employer, the duty holder, or contractors, must ensure the following:

  • That they and the people who work with them understand how the permit to work system work.
  • That all necessary information, instruction, and training has been given to users.
  • That performing authority as well as permit users understand their different responsibilities under the system.
  • That the conditions as well as the precautions which are specified in the permits are understood, implemented, and monitored, and
  • That the issuing authority is informed once the work is completed, suspended, if conditions are altered, or if the task itself must be altered.


Permit users

Employees who are working on the site or on an installation must ensure that they:

  • Can demonstrate a good understanding of the permit to work systems which are operated in any given location and at which they may perform work.
  • Do not start any work where a permit to work is required until one has both been authorised and issued and until they understand its content, and that precautions have been taken.
  • Implement the conditions and precautions as stipulated in the permit to work.
  • Take all the precautions and safety measures that the permit and instructions state.
  • Stop work if they are in doubt or if any circumstances or conditions change and that the work area is made safe and that they obtain advice.


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

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Posted date: 20th Mar 2021