02 July 2018 | Simmon Olliff
Simmon Olliff, managing director at Banyard Solutions, discusses how we should be using electronic permits to work (PTW), and not paper.
Permits to work (PTW) have existed for decades, providing the documented procedures used to control high-risk activities.
PTW have historically been paper-based. But paper has inherent limitations that cause a disconnect between policies and what's happening on the ground, leaving workers unprotected and duty holders exposed.
A lack of speed and transparency are just two limitations of paper resulting in insufficient data at the point of decision-making.
These limitations can result in corners being cut and processes circumvented when under pressure. This creates a disconnect between policy and action, which is often only discovered when near misses or incidents happen.
A worker with a piece of paper in his hand stating 'it's safe to work' often assumes that to be the case even when it may not be. Even where the procedures are strictly adhered to as designed, a paper-based process still lacks the reporting and auditing capabilities required in a modern business.
This is where electronic permits or e-permits become valuable. They can emulate the positive 'design' aspects of existing PTW processes while eliminating the operational issues of paper.
They reduce the disconnect between policy, procedure and what's happening on the ground by reflecting policies and rules in day-to-day activity, managing RAMS, checking for adequate insurance, the team's competences and training, clashes, and emulating agreed decision-making scenarios.
"Why are people still using paper? It's the 21st century"
the team's competences and training, clashes, and emulating agreed decision-making scenarios.
An electronic PTW system also facilitates desk audits to help focus effort where it's needed, automatically providing an audit trail as well as simplifying reporting.
So why are people still using paper? It's the 21st century. Would your client accept any part of its supply chain stipulating paper communication rather than email? Or contemplate a T-card system to control work orders? No. Consign paper PTW to the bin.
Simmon Olliff is managing director at Banyard Solutions.