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Companies rely extensively on contractors for manpower and specialised skills when it comes to facility management. Service providers are contracted for a wide variety of tasks including maintenance, facade cleaning, soft skill services, landscaping and others. But are these service providers taking care of the Occupational Health and Safety?

It has been noticed many a time that contractors engage workforce that is not appropriately trained for the task or is competent enough to handle the jobs undertaken. “Permit to work” is one of the most significant tools, which if implemented effectively at site, meets or exceeds the established Health and Safety guidelines. A permit to work provides a systematic disciplined approach to access the risks of a job and specify the precautions to be taken when performing a job. Permit to work is issued by a supervisor to the contractor. When more than one company/contractor is involved, a permit will be issued to the responsible person in charge of each working party involved in the work.

Permits are generally prepared in two-fold. One copy is handed over to the contractor performing the job and other is retained by the supervisors for records. Optionally, a third copy can be prepared and handed over to security personnel, if tasks are highly critical in nature and requires a strict vigil. A permit to work is valid for 24 hours only and should encompass all significant details sufficient enough to ensure safety at site.Such as:

  • Specification of the work to be done
  • Detail of equipment to be used
  • Details of contractor and supervisor
  • Start and end time of the job
  • Emergency contact numbers
  • Precautions to be taken while performing the job
  • Isolation/Draining/Flushing
  • Nature of expected hazards
  • Approving authority

Permit to work can be complemented with additional documentation such as Contractor Induction, Lock Out/Tag Out, etc. The type of permit varies with the requirement of the job and individual site conditions. Permits can be classified as:

  • Hot Work Permit
  • Cold Work permit
  • Electrical Work Permit
  • Permit for working at height
  • Confined Space Permit
  • Hazardous Work Permit

Hot Work permit establishes standard for minimum health and safety requirements for the safe execution of “hot work” such as welding, cutting, and heating.It is one of the key requirements for fire prevention during a hot work. The contractor or sub-contractor/trade performing hot work is ultimately responsible for conducting activities in a sound, fire-safe manner and following the precautions outlined on the Hot Work permit. Fire Watch is mandatory during and after the job.

Electrical Work permit can be further classified for energised and non-energised equipment. This Permitdescribes the circuit and equipment to be worked on, justification for energised work, safe work practices, shock hazard analysis and protection boundary, flash hazard analysis and protection boundary, personal protective equipment (PPE) required, means employed to restrict access to unqualified persons, evidence of pre-job briefing and any post job feedback and approving signatures.

Permit for working at height is required when a person is working within two metres of an unprotected edge which exposes him to a fall of two metres or more. It ensures proper scaffolding, ladder condition, requirement of personal protection equipment and associated hazards.

Confined Spacepermit means a space that is not designed for continuous employee occupancy such as tanks, pits, bins, hopper or sewer. It has limited means for entry or exit. Any supervisor issuing confined Space Permit shall have successfully completed, as a minimum, training for operating and rescue operations. Surveillance in the surrounding area is a must while job is being performed in a confined space. Hazardous Work Permit is required while handling materials like batteries, oil, chemicals, high pressure gas lines, etc.

Permits-to-work form an essential part of safe systems of work for many maintenance activities. 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 properly designed Permit not only ensures safety but also prevents property loss. It is vital communication key between everybody involved.

Sunny Verma
Consultant Engineer


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