Last edited 05 Jul 2016

Permit to work for construction

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Permit to work (PTW) systems are formal procedures used to control activities that are considered high-risk. Permits only allow authorised personnel to perform those activities at specified times and in a way set out in the permit and referenced documents.

A permit to work might be required for activities such as:

  • Electrical works.
  • Hot works.
  • Excavation.
  • Lone working.
  • Lifting operations.
  • Work in confined spaces.
  • Work to high risk spaces such as laboratories, or industrial plant.
  • Work at height.
  • Work to roofs.
  • Temporary works.
  • Work with asbestos.
  • Demolition.
  • Work to high pressure systems.

A permit to work system should:

  • Only allow permits to be issued by authorised, competent personnel.
  • Prevent high-risk work being carried out without a risk assessment having been undertaken.
  • Consider whether any other work will impact on, or be impacted by, the permitted work.
  • Ensure control measures and supervision are in place.
  • Ensure method statements and emergency procedures are prepared.
  • Ensure work is checked and returned to a safe state.
  • Provide information to other parties that might be affected by the work.
  • Include a system for handing back and cancelling permits.

Permits should:

  • Describe the work and its location.
  • Provide information about foreseeable risks.
  • Provide information necessary for working safely.
  • Set out requirements for personal protective equipment.
  • Set out the time when the work can be carried out.
  • Provide information about other permits.

Issuing permits to work can be a complicated and time-consuming process and so adequate notice should be given before a permit to work is required.

Permit to work systems do not in themselves make activities safer, this is only possible through the implementation of the correct procedures. It is important therefore that systems not box-ticking exercises, that they are explained at site inductions and that they are continuously monitored, reviewed and kept up to date.

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