If you have ever worked with PTW systems, or if your work role involves dealing with them in any way, the chances are you have noticed how time consuming and complicated it can get, especially with large projects that require many permits, and even more so when using traditional, paper-based PTW procedures and forms.
But first, what is a Permit to Work (PTW) System?
Simply put, Permit to Work (PTW) systems are a key factor in ensuring the safe execution of hazardous work activities at operational facilities. PTW procedures are usually supported by a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) process and a range of related procedures for high risk activities such as confined space, hot work etc.
And while safety management has significantly evolved over the last few years, especially with the introduction of electronic-based systems, yet the significant majority of operational facilities world-wide still use manual paper-based PTW procedures and forms.
One of the main disadvantages of traditional PTW systems is its efficiency, paper-based systems require many hours of forms filling, tag writing and paper transportation from one place to another, all adding up to a considerable loss in time and money.
Electronic Permit to Work (ePTW) systems easily solves that, by reducing the lost time for performing job safety analysis, permit planning and approval, and the ability of reusing preapproved isolation lists.
For a typical operating facility with 1000 requests per month, an ePTW system can mean saving up to 250 of work hours per month, which- depending on the hourly rate- can equal up to $20,000 in saved costs.
Manual paper-based PTW systems require the physical movement of paperwork around the organization to be actioned by appropriately authorized personnel, or the movement of those people to the paper. More complex types of work, such as say hot work inside a confined space, require more authorizations and even more time to get the people and the paper coordinated.
Contrarily, an electronic PTW system does not require any paper or people movement to perform this action. Responsible personnel can access the system and perform their authorization
actions from their access device. And this alone can result to achieving up to 70% reduction
in effort in this area.
The auditing process is one of the primary processes used to monitor the compliance of PTW systems, and part of the reason for the lower level of activity in audit is that it can be quite time-consuming.
On the other hand, electronic PTW systems generate real time transactional records of the permit life-cycle, providing an audit history which is irrefutable evidence of the date/times of the permit activities as well as the names of the person/s performing those activities. Automatically generated audit histories contribute to an improved workplace culture and deliver efficiency savings in both the initial recording and audit/governance process.
Clearly, all corporations using Permit to Work procedures can gain immediate and valuable
tangible and intangible benefits through the introduction of electronic PTW systems. The calculations used throughout this article show that benefits can be achieved at many stages of the risk assessment, permit and isolation process. Benefits extend beyond actual cost savings to avoided costs such as loss of
production, compensation, fines and loss of reputation.