Permit to work is utilized in industries such as chemical, construction, energy, manufacturing, and mining that deal with high-risk operational activities. Operational and process safety workers in these environments are always one incident away from a potential catastrophe.
Streamlined operational safety and permitting processes with strict control of work workflows can be effective in ensuring compliance, but also help prevent costly downtimes and injuries. Overall, permitting processes improve safety and productivity.
Human errors, manual control of work processes and inadequate procedures account for 70 to 90 percent of accidents or incidents across industries. The causes can be fatigue, lapses in memory or judgement, any number of things. OSHA recorded in 2020 that 4,764 workers died on the job. Nearly half of the fatalities were workers in transportation and material moving occupations and construction and extraction occupations.
A well-designed digital permit-to-work system facilitates the request, review, authorization, documentation, and monitoring of tasks. The digital approach to permits helps eliminate the human error element that can cause damaged reputations, major regulatory fines, and loss of life that can profoundly impact employees and communities.
Read on to learn about the downside of paper-based permit to work and the advantages of digital solutions like SAI360’s Permit to Work to help reduce risk and simplify compliance and risk management in high-risk work environments.
The Pitfalls of Paper-Based Permit to Work
Digital technology such as SAI360’s platform with mobile application makes it easier for industries to track high-risk workflows, issue and track permits for dangerous tasks, and keep detailed paperwork available for regulators, inspectors and auditors in the field, all necessary to stay in compliance with regulations.
Despite this technology, many companies still maintain paper-based manual control of work processes and procedures susceptible to human error and other mistakes.
Process safety management standards and regulations for OSHA in the U.S. and the EU’s Seveso III Directive all contain strict requirements for controlling and preventing major accident hazards involving dangerous substances and require adherence to required paperwork to maintain permits to work before the job can even start.
Before starting hazardous work, a request must be made for a permit to work, usually issued internally by companies. Manual permit processes can be time-consuming, especially if the permit must be viewed or approved by several people, such as busy engineers scheduled to work at several job sites in a single day.
Permits to work are essentially a recognition that hazardous work is being done, a record that hazards have been mitigated, when work has started and stopped, and can be used as an audit trail or referenced in the event of an accident. Local building inspectors will be looking out for these permits, and having the right documentation assures compliance with local codes and prevents costly work delays.
How Cloud Streamlines and Automates the Process
By putting paper-based processes in the cloud, users can access digital dashboards allowing work and monitoring activities in real-time. Permits to work can be issued, modified, and approved much quicker, even if the approving supervisor is in another location or time zone.
Notifications are automated, eliminating the need for costly and time-consuming manual approval processes. Automation allows for electronic recordkeeping and job hazard analysis, leading to safer processes and risk mitigation practices. Digital documentation helps satisfy the regulators and makes it easier for larger companies with different departments across large geographic areas to be on the same page.
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The Verdantix Green Quadrant provides a benchmark competitive capability analysis of digital ESH software providers. SAI360 was recognized as a leader in the 2023 Verdandix Green Quadrant (GQ) with high scores for configurability, mobile app and self-service business intelligence tools.
Mobile Transforms Permit to Work
After trading in the paper-based permit for cloud processing, the next breakthrough is in mobile technology. A mobile application cuts out redundant tasks like recording the incident on paper and inputting it later into a desktop application. Your agile, mobile workforce can record incidents and accidents, near misses, inspections and more—all from their mobile device.
Mobile is more than a data capture tool. With the right app, companies can push out information to the workforce on their devices. For example, instant notifications allow real-time messaging of assigned tasks, safety alerts, or any urgent information that needs to be sent to workers in the field. Configurable forms and workflows allow you to continually expand your company’s mobile capabilities. Soon, workers are entering data and searching for information on their devices such as hazards, incidents, chemicals, job safety and more.
As the world has gone mobile, so has the digital permit to work. Innovation never stops.
Managing process safety and operational risks have become much more complex in recent years with worker safety paramount. As a result, operational and safety managers need a clearer, quicker view of all hazardous work activities anytime, anywhere that is aided by a digital-first permit-to-work process and an empowered mobile workforce.