Delivering Contractor Compliance with e-permits (part 1 of 2)

Neil Hartleye-permits Use CasesLeave a Comment

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Part 1 – The Permit to Work Request and Approval Process

A key benefit of using e-permits for permit-to-work is ensuring contractor compliance or, as Greg Markham of EMCOR stated, “The best way to control contractors that I’ve ever seen”.

This post is the first in a two part series looking at how e-permits delivers contractor compliance. Here we cover the permit request process, the second part covering issue/approval/closing.

So let’s start with the permit request workflow process.

Example P2W Request Workflow Process

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It starts with the contractor being contacted to come in and do a particular piece of work. If previously registered/approved, that contractor will already have access to your e-permits system with their own login details and restricted view of the system. The contractor will make the request in e-permits with the following key information: who will be doing the work, when is the work planned, what is the work, how is it going to be carried out, and where is it going to be carried out (building/floor/location).

In the background, e-permits then performs lots of checks on this key information. For example, are there already approved RAMS in the system for this job? This is particularly useful for PPM (Planned Preventive Maintenance) work where RAMS can be submitted once, approved once, and used repeatedly. This saves time all round and enables scarce resources to be applied for the maximum impact.

Most e-permits clients apply expiry dates to RAMS, even for PPM, to ensure ongoing rigour and e-permits manages all aspects of the on-going validation process.

e-permits also checks insurances for contractors ahead of them turning up onsite to do a job, sending alerts as necessary if insurance has expired or if the right levels of insurance are not in place.

Ensuring the contractor’s personnel has adequate training to do the job at hand is also overseen by e-permits. Those nominated on the permit request will be checked by the system to ensure they have the pre-requisite training requirements to conduct each specific job. If they do not, this will be flagged and the permit request cannot be submitted until suitably qualified people are listed on the permit.

Absence of site inductions and insurance do not prevent the permit being submitted (as they can be completed before the scheduled visit) but training is hard stop in the system. If a worker is nominated without appropriate training, the permit request can not be submitted.

PPE checks also form part of the permit request process. For example, the company may have a standard minimum: hard hat, high-vis jacket, safety boots; which will then appear on the permit request. The contractor can also add job specific PPE, if required, such that the permit request has a complete record of all that is required.

Only when the permit request has satisfied these basic requirements will it be submitted for further scrutiny and approval.

If a contractor is engaged in work that will involve work at height, confined space, and hot works, for example, then e-permits will actually create a bundle of four permits: an access permit to allow the contractor on-site, and then three high-risk permits: work at height, work in a confined space, and hot works.

e-mails will then be sent to various people within the organisation who are the nominated approvers for each permit type. Individuals only see those permits that are pertinent to them, thereby, reducing workload.

For example, the access permit would go to the site manager and would include any clash information (what other activities are planned for the same time?) enabling an informed decision on whether or not to allow this new job to take place at the same time, or whether to change the existing job. All information relating to the other jobs is available through the system to enable that informed decision.

Health and Safety would, for example, receive the confined space, hot works and work at height permits with further technical representatives reviewing the hot works permits. The personnel and process to which individual organisations work is customisable in the system and many e-permits clients use the system to replicate what they have already fine-tuned in their paper-based system.

In situations such as hot works in a confined space, it’s likely that a fire systems isolation will also be required in that area. In those situations e-permits will now also automatically generate an internal permit request for the isolation services and add that permit to the bundle.

If any one person in the process rejects the permit, the whole permit bundle is rejected. So, in our example, if all the permits were fine but the isolation services cannot be performed, then that whole permit bundle will be rejected.

When all permits have been approved, the contractor receives a message to that effect with the permit bundle to review.

Ensuring that this process is adhered to ahead of the contractor turning up to do the work prevents the long queue at the permit manager’s office first thing in the morning. All that needs to happen on the day of work is to issue these pre-approved permits.

Part 2 of this post looks at what’s involved in permit issue, how e-permits manages dynamic risk assessments and the permit closing process.

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