A permit to work procedure is a formal written system used to control certain types of work which are potentially hazardous. However there are different things that must be taken care of.permit_to_work


It is important that a permit-to-work certificate should be designed to suit the circumstances of its use. In particular, the permit should assist the authorized person who will ultimately sign it after thorough deliberation, in prescribing all the necessary precautions.

In this regard, so called ‘blanket permits’ can be a danger because of a lack of detailed specification. Examples of well designed permit-to-work certificates are included in this manual.

As will be seen from these examples, each permit details the specific precautions necessary to cope with, for example, electrical hazards, work in flammable/ explosive atmospheres, confined spaces.

In general terms a permit-to-work system is a formal system designed to ensure that all parties involved are aware of:

  • The job location /plant identification
  • Description of work
  • The period of time in which the work may be carried out
  • Description of the hazards which are, or might be, present
  • The tests and checks which have to be made and the precautions to be taken before starting work
  • Authorization- signature by competent person confirming that all necessary precautions have been taken
  • Acceptance- signature of person in charge of work confirming understanding of work to be done, hazards involved and precautions required
  • Time extensions/ shift change procedures
  • Hand back- confirming work completed
  • Cancellation

Note: All signatures must be eligible


The permit-to-work certificates should be regarded as a written agreement between the organization and personnel receiving it. The person receiving the permit must understand that he must comply with the certificate in every detail and that the person authorizing it has complete and absolute control.

It is normal for permit-to-work certificates to be of the ‘no carbon required’ variety (supplied in pads) and made with two or more copies of different colours. Copies should share a specific serial number to ensure correct identification and a typical distribution might be as follows:

  1. Top (yellow) copy to be issued to and retained by the supervisor in charge of the work.
  2. First (pink) copy to be placed in transparent plastic envelope and displayed at place of work.
  3. Both the above copies to be returned to the authorize person to be destroyed when work is complete.
  4. Second (blue) copy to be retained in pad for record purposes, with the necessary ‘confirmation of work completed’ and ‘cancellation’ signatures.

On large projects many permits-to work may be necessary, sometimes running concurrently. Under such circumstances it may be necessary to appoint a ‘permit coordinator’ , and to have a system of per application for permits, thus enabling all necessary arrangements to be made prior to the issuing of the permit by authorized person. In such a case, a formal ‘request for the permit-to-work certificate’ may be necessary.

The need to inform all relevant personnel that a permit-to-work system is, or will be, in operation is vital. This may be achieved by formal notices on notice boards etc. In some cases, the posting of specially prepared maps indicating permit-to-work areas (into which only persons covered by the permit certificates may go) may well be justified and very useful. On proposed Permit-to-work systems it is often difficult to get both supervisors and operatives to understand precisely what is required. Formal training sessions should be set up and the proposed system, nature of the work, hazards etc., fully discussed and communicated.

(Get the full part of this syllabus from the December issue of Safety Messenger Magazine 2015)

Author: SubEditor

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