This post begins by summarising the benefits delivered by e-permits, the electronic permit to work software and work authorisation system, in bringing increased control and compliance to the existing paper process. It continues with a detailed “how” e-permits delivers these benefits.
By providing critical information to the appropriate people just as they need it, e-permits helps ensure that the…
right people, with the
right skills, work to the
right method statement, in the
right place, at the
e-permits helps fulfil your Duty of Care and mitigates your risk of prosecution by ensuring compliance with Government legislation, industry regulation and your own Health and Safety, Corporate Social Responsibility and other Corporate Governance policies.
For risks to be consistently and substantially reduced requires a step-change in your management control. Proper control is only possible when management information is at your fingertips.
e-permits delivers real-time visibility of information that informs your…
- The hazards on-site and whether they have changed
- What site rules you will have to comply with
- When your site-specific RAMS is approved
- The current status of your e-permit
Auditors and procurement
- What is going on today
- What future activity is planned
- Were any risks unacceptable and what were the non-compliances
- What happened prior to an incident occurring
Authorised Persons (AP)
- What has been submitted
- Which APs need to be involved in the scenario
- Whether the supplier is approved and adequately insured
- The high-risk permits linked to the Access permit
- Whether any other supplier’s tasks clash
- Work-stream managers to approve the business risk in operational areas
- Security to approve security risk in sensitive areas
- Landlords and insurance companies to approve fire system impairments
The “How” in Detail
Permits are a critical management control aspect of Building Operations. Paper permit systems have been in operation for many years and the process of managing contractors and the activities that they undertake on-site are vital to ensuring the safety of persons on-site while services are undertaken – no matter how dangerous or passive the tasks are.
Electronic permit systems do not intend to replace the physical paper permit – in many organisations the paper permit is compulsory – they automate the management workflow process. Consider the aspects of the workflow that have to be controlled:
- A permit request needs to be raised either by an AP or by the Contractor tasked with the job.
- That permit request may consist of a number of separate elements:
- Work Access Permit to enable contractors to get on-site.
- Associated High Risk permits if the task involves activities such as working at height, high voltage work, working in confined spaces.
- Associated tasks for people other than the contractor such as electrical or fire system isolations which will in their own right require Work Access Permits and additional High Risk permits
- The Contractor staff being tasked to do the work must be trained and competent to do the work and the AP must have proof that this is the case.
- All of these stages must be completed before the work actually can begin and scheduled so that they are done in the right sequence – e.g. isolations have to be done before the actual core job.
- Once the contractors are on-site the AP must be made aware and be sure that everything is ready for the actual job to be undertaken safely.
- Once the job has been completed again the AP must be made aware that this is the case, the work potentially inspected and then any electrical or fire systems made live again before the business can return to business-as-usual.
Seems straightforward and simple? Not really – the more complex and high risk the job, the more loops and checkpoints that have to be monitored to ensure compliance and safety in the associated workflow. As a result, the number of points of potential failure in that workflow process increases with complexity and risk.
Human beings can only juggle so many balls at the same time and, unfortunately, the risk of injury through human error also increases with complexity and risk. Enter the computerised workflow process with electronic permitting that effectively eliminates the risk of mistakes being made in the process.
e-permits was designed to replicate tried and trusted workflow processes for managing contractors and on-site building maintenance and repair tasks and consequently bridge the gap between well thought out health and safety policies and what was actually happening on the ground.
e-permits is configured for each client with key information:
- e-permits holds a detailed understanding of the buildings being managed – what services are located where in a building – levels and location on a level. A level can be identified as a floor, basement or roof area and a location can be as varied as a storage room, office or lift shaft.
- e-permits holds training, competency and site induction records of the contractor employees who may be tasked to do a job.
- e-permits holds RAMS, Safe Practices of Work, Tool Box talks, etc that provide the instructions for conducting a task safely.
Then, on top of this configuration, the key activities in the e-permits workflow are:
- Contractors make a permit request for a job to be done. They assign the staff to the job and propose the time that the work will be done based on the work request, urgency & staff availability.
- e-permits checks the staff named on the permit request against training and competency records and ensures that only trained and competent staff can be assigned a job.
- e-permits cross checks the work to be done against the RAMS and Safe Practices of Work in the system and again won’t allow a permit request to be completed if the appropriate RAMS are not available. The contractor therefore needs to upload the RAMS to the system before the request can be completed. These RAMS have to go through a separate approval process by the AP before the permit request process can be continued.
- Only Compliant permit requests can be sent to the AP for approval therefore the AP can be confident that any request they receive will be compliant from a training and competency perspective of the contractors
- e-permits checks for any location or service clashes and the AP then makes a decision whether any potential clashes should be resolved by delaying a job or whether both jobs can be done at the same time. Warnings of clashes can be put on the permits to advise the contractors.
- e-permits automatically creates any associated High Risk permits and Isolation permits required as a result of the request. The approval process may then be different, involving different people, and the system automatically routes the notifications to the appropriate authorities for approval.
- Permits can only have final approval once all high risk permits have been approved and all isolation permits approved and issued. Therefore, when the Contractor receives notification that the permit has been approved, they can be confident that when they turn up at the nominated time everything will be ready for them to start work.
- Issued permits can either be printed by the contractor as a complete bundle – Work Access Permit plus any associated High Risk Permits together with the associated RAMS – or the contractor can have the permits and RAMS printed off when they arrive at reception / security post on-site – depending on the security / safety policy of the client.
- e-permits also checks that site inductions are up to date for all contractor staff assigned to the job. If they are not then the system will either prompt that the site induction needs to be done before the permits are issued on-site or the Contractor can access video files of the site inductions within e-permits prior to coming on-site – again whichever process is acceptable and appropriate.
- When contractors arrive on site they have to complete a short audit questionnaire that gets them to confirm that the people on site are the people on the permit. This audit is then time stamped and an automatic email sent to the AP to advise that the Contractor is on site and about to start work on the job.
- As part of checking that the people who have arrived are the people on the permit, e-permits has photographs of the personnel in the training and competency records and this photograph appears on the Permit. Security guards or reception staff are able to assess that the correct people have turned up which, therefore, does not require an AP on site to do this.
- Once the job has been completed, the Contractors have to complete a short audit questionnaire at exit to confirm that the job has been completed and that everything has been done without incident. This exit audit is again time stamped and the AP automatically emailed to say that the job has been completed and the contractor has left site.
- This then enables the AP to close off the permits and perform any required inspections before the business can return to business-as-usual.
To see e-permits via a personal demo you can use the form to the left. To watch a pre-recorded demo, you can sign-up here.