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Contractors and hot work are two of the top four causes of losses in commercial property. Management and control of both of these activities can be time consuming and labour intensive with the creation of volumes of paper work. Having multiple permits for one job and during major works, having multiple sets of permits to manage and issue can be a full time job for anyone involved in the process. The Q-Perm Permit to Work System makes the process easy to manage. Details of your approved contractors are held in a database which is then used to enable you to select a contractor from a drop down list during the permit preparation process. Contractor's details are then automatically printed on the permits to work thus reducing the time taken to issue the permits. In addition the Contractors portion of the database provides an easy means of establishing and managing a list of approved contractors. The whole process is controlled from start to finish, with the purchase order number being used as the start point and the receipt of the invoice from the contractor being used as the end point. A built in tracking system provides email updates and alerts as to which permits have expired and need to be closed out.
A simple management information system provides analysis of all permits issued, when and what for.
What Are Permits to Work?
A permit-to-work system is a formal written system used to control certain types of work that are potentially hazardous. A permit-to-work is a document which specifies the work to be done and the precautions to be taken. Permits-to-work form an essential part of safe systems of work for many maintenance activities whether they be predictive, planned or breakdown related. They allow work to start only after safe procedures have been defined and they provide a clear record that all foreseeable hazards have been considered. A permit is needed when maintenance work can only be carried out if normal safeguards are dropped or when new hazards are introduced by the work for example, entry into vessels, hot work and working at heights
What is the Problem?
An HSE survey showed that a third of all accidents in the chemical industry were maintenance-related, the largest single cause being a lack of, or deficiency in, permit-to-work systems. In a study of small and medium-sized chemical factories:
- two-thirds of companies were not checking systems adequately;
- two-thirds of permits did not adequately identify potential hazards;
- nearly half dealt poorly with isolation of plant, electrical equipment, etc;
- a third of permits were unclear on what personal protective clothing was needed;
- a quarter of permits did not deal adequately with formal hand-back of plant once maintenance work had finished;
- in many cases little thought had been given to permit form design.
While aimed primarily at the chemical industry the guidance provided may have application in other industries. The QRIMS permit to work system is an insurance industry approved tool for assist in successfully implementing a permit to work system that maintains a level a of safety and is cost effective to implement and manage.
What Should You Do?
Don't assume that your system is a good one just because you have not yet had a serious incident. You should critically review your system and ask yourself the following questions.
- Is the permit-to-work system fully documented, laying down: - how the system works;
- Is there clear identification of who may authorise particular jobs (and any limits to their authority)?
- Is there clear identification of who is responsible for specifying the necessary precautions (e.g. isolation, emergency arrangements, etc)?
- Is the permit form clearly laid out?
- Does it avoid statements or questions which could be ambiguous or misleading?
- Is it designed to allow for use in unusual circumstances?
- Does it cover contractors?
- the jobs it is to be used for;
- the responsibilities and training of those involved; and
- how to check its operation?
The QRIMS permit to work system integrates a comprehensive permit to work system with a control of contractors system to provide seamless beginning to end management of one of the most critical exposures to any business.