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Permits to Work (PTW) and associated isolation points - A better way of working

Posted on 1 January 2016

Statistics indicate that electrocution, being struck by plant or caught in plant is a fairly common risk category and most organisations have well established processes to manage this potentially high risk activity. The common approach for small to medium size enterprises is to have a procedure dealing with PTWs and that procedure then specifically references high risk activities such as working above 2 metres, electrical work, confined spaces or excavations.

The result is often a hard copy pad with the Permit to Work, an associated Job Safety Analysis  (JSA) and an isolation list. The Supervisor for the task runs through the risks with the employee doing the work and conduct the isolations together and then the employee signs onto the PTW. In the event of a confined space being entered as part of the work, then a separate Confined Space PTW is issued as a separate document and includes gas testing results.  The result is a significant amount of paperwork which must be filed and retained. Again visiting worksites would suggest that much of this documentation is retained in leverage arched folders for audit or review purposes.

Many supervisors spend lots of time on the administration of the PTW systems as a result of company policies and specific requirements. The situation with Contractors coming on sites is even more complex as the Contractor often does not have detailed knowledge of the isolation points and the specific plant. The isolation points are also a matter of organisational knowledge and not written down anywhere.

In larger companies, there are a range of solutions such as electronic PTW systems and the barrier to widespread application to these have been cost. As the software applications improve and the cost decreases, the trend is to using tablets and smart phones to manage the administration aspects of the PTW.

The advantages of electronic systems over paper based systems is  the documentation is retained either onsite and increasingly in cloud based applications; the time spent of administration is reduced and that the isolations required are readily available for each specific plant at the point where the work is being undertaken. The supervisor does not to gather up large amounts of paperwork for each job and the process is retained indefinitely and can be readily audited. If you would like more information on electronic PTW systems complete with expandable PTWs, Isolations and printable tags, please contact Peter Attwood on 1800 429 266.

Peter Attwood - CEO

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