Safety Digitally – Why It’s Time to Bin Paper PTW

Neil HartleyHealth & Safety Issues/TrendsLeave a Comment

Safety Digitally

Have you applied for a credit card or set up a business recently? Maybe you had a survey on the house you were planning to buy? A kitchen re-design? New passport? Job application?

There is an endless list with one thing in common, an absence of paper. And it’s been that way for years, decades even. One of the last bastions of paper? Permit to work (PTW), a system fundamental to ensuring the safety of workers.

PTW systems have been around for decades and are designed to ensure that the right people, with the right skills, work to the right method statement, in the right place, at the right time. Having invested significantly in health and safety policies and procedures, companies rely on PTW for high risk work to ensure that what happens on the ground reflects these policies.

Unfortunately, the use of paper as the basis for the PTW process has resulted in a disconnect between those well designed, well intended policies and procedures and what actually happens on the ground, leaving workers unprotected and Duty holders exposed.

Paper PTW Implementation Issues

Using paper means any process will be manual by definition. For PTW that compromises speed and transparency and inhibits the availability of key information for decision making. Is the worker trained to do the work? Are they insured? Are there any clashes? Just some of the questions that are difficult to answer with paper-based PTW.

Layer in the speed of modern life and the need for ever increasing business efficiencies and there will always be the possibility that corners will be cut and processes circumvented when under pressure. This is all too easy with paper-based PTW and the disconnect between policy and action on the ground is a direct consequence.

Even assuming this does not happen, paper-based PTW still lacks the reporting and auditing capabilities required in a modern business. Do you know what’s happening right now across your portfolio? Can you perform a desk audit to see where you should focus your efforts? In the event of an accident can you easily access the information you need to find out what went wrong?


 e-permits was the first electronic PTW system, launched by Banyard Solutions 15 years ago. It was designed to emulate the positive ‘design’ aspects of existing PTW processes while eliminating the operational issues of paper and consequently reduces the disconnect between policy, procedure and what’s happening on the ground. This post provides more information more on the benefits on e-permits.

So why are you still using paper?

 It’s the 21st century. Would you accept any part of your supply chain stipulating paper communication rather than email? Would you contemplate a T card system to control work orders, or a pencil drawing of a building? Of course not.

So why is paper still relied upon when workers’ safety is at risk? Particularly when e-permits are available, proven, affordable, enable the replication of proven systems and, as far as possible, eliminate the risk to workers’ safety. All while delivering a transparency impossible with paper.

That’s a good question, the answer to which is a combination of several factors. One is  resistance to change. Another is that paper workflows can be more easily circumvented for convenience and [subconsciously] the need for ‘flexibility’ wins out. The way FM contracts are bid plays a role too with paper permit to work systems essentially offered for free and e-permits seen as an optional extra. There’s no malicious intent of course but sadly it’s the safety of workers that is ultimately compromised.

One barrier to adoption should never be cost. e-permits can be implemented as a straight replacement for paper PTW in a cost neutral way. If you’re end-user business demand this of your FM partner. If you’re an FM company use e-permits to differentiate your offering in your next bid.

Contact us today to ensure the safety of your workers and to enjoy the benefits of digitisation in your business.

Safety digitally. It’s 2018 and time to finally consign paper PTW to the bin.

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