Digital transformation of Safe Work has gained momentum. With a workforce armed with digital devices, no longer should your organization have piles of paperwork mounting up. Even pens and pencils have had their day with the advent of digital signatures on tablets and smartphones. Your work orders can become visible only when approved and, crucially, digital Permits-to-Work can reduce the risk of oversight and will provide your organization with a stronger legal case in the event of a workplace accident.
Let’s look at why we need safety permits in the first place and what key benefits they bring to organizations and companies.
Why Do Businesses Need Safety Permits?
Safety permits or Permit to work ensure that the worker is informed, trained, and supervised to minimize the risk of any potential human failure events from occurring. Risk management is a key element of any modern organization’s operating strategy that ensures risk and consequences are considered on a daily and task-by-task basis.
There are many issues that can contribute to accidents and hazards in the workplace:
- Poor leadership
- Organizational culture
- An inadequate safety management system
- Poor recognition of hazards before or during a maintenance task
- Non-compliance with work permits
- Explosive atmospheres that fall under the ATEX directives
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Permit system communication failures
There were 5250 workplce fatalities in the USA in 2018 alone. *
So, you can see that these issues reinforce the statement we made earlier: we need informed, trained, and supervised workers. Let’s look at these points individually.
Inform Workers About All Aspects of the Work
Informed – whether the worker is in maintenance, operations, or any other discipline, she or he needs to be informed about all aspects of the work. What the task is, where it is, who to co-ordinate with, what isolations need to be in place, what Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is necessary, and many other aspects. For example, is the work to take place in a potentially explosive atmosphere where the ATEX directives and regulations require that all tools and clothing cannot cause ignition?
The traditional way to do this is by paper. Or, nowadays, in more modern companies who are adopting the digital approach, the worker is informed when permits and work orders become visible on their tablets or smartphones.
Trained – a fundamental cornerstone of any successful manufacturer or organization is skilled and competent workers. Not just skilled and qualified workers in the technical and operational aspects, but also in the safety aspects of any work tasks. A poorly skilled workforce increases business and safety risks – sometimes to intolerable levels that can put the future of your organization at risk.
Worker skills need to be upgraded continuously by using assessments, gap analysis, and training plans. Do your workers know how to perform risk assessments, for example? This should be an essential skill that all employees have. Having an easy to use safety permit system adds value.
Supervision to ensure compliance with safety procedures
Supervised – Now, although you may have skilled and competent workers, you will still need a level of supervision to ensure the safety permit system operates effectively. At the very least, you will need a permit approver to sign off the permit and allow the work to commence.
This person is essentially supervising that the permit system has been followed, and it is safe for the workers to proceed. The permit supervisor or approver will need to manage, inspect, and regularly review the system.
Key Safety Benefits to the Organization
Having a safety management system in place to underpin your safety permit system will bring critical benefits to your organization and business:
- Reduced risk of injury and death to all employees
- High-risk activities are controlled, and risks understood
- Reduced work errors by improved human performance
- Higher asset availability
- Higher workforce morale
- Improved workplace culture
- Reduced probability of fines
- Lower insurance premiums
- Better reputation with clients and customers
Most importantly of all these benefits, the safety permit system will lower the risk of injuries and accidents to your employees. No-one wants to experience fatalities in the workplace because of inadequate safety systems, cultures or not adhering to the law such as the ATEX directives. It also means that the organization or company has a better legal case in the event of an accident. In essence, fines can be very significant for workplace accidents, and in the worst of cases, it may even mean time in prison for senior business leaders and managers.
A Solution to Improve Your Safety Permit System
As mentioned, paperwork was yesterdays way to handle Permits-to-Work in the workplace. This usually entailed huge size books with master pages and multicolored copies for all involved with the work. That system was cumbersome, time-consuming, prone to errors and at the very least, very wasteful of paper.
There is a better solution nowadays for organizations that strive for operational excellence and openly embrace the digital world. The solution is digital or e-Permits. The whole process – from permit creation to digital sign-off - can be managed on tablets and smartphones with no paper trail in sight.
Learn more about Safety Permits:
Dynaway offers Safe Work solutions for Microsoft Supply Chain Management (F&O) and Business Central platforms.
With Dynaway Safe Work you can manage work permits easier and more efficiently!
The Safe Work module allows users to manage permits as if it was a paper-based form. Permit templates make it easy to create customizable checklists, questions, dropdowns and instructions for those filling in, approving and using Permit forms. This ensures that you will have a consistent way of creating permits. Permit forms can be modified at any time, without affecting active and completed permits!