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    Mitigating Risks: The Advantages of Digital Permit to Work Solutions

    3 January 2024 - Evotix


    A permit to work (PTW) system is used in industries such as chemical, construction, energy, manufacturing and mining that deal with high-risk operational activities. In these environments, operational and process safety personnel are constantly on the brink of a potential catastrophe, with just one incident separating them from disaster.

    Efficient management of operational safety and permitting procedures, coupled with stringent control of workflows, proves effective not only in ensuring compliance but also in averting costly downtimes and injuries. In general, the enhancement of permitting processes contributes to heightened safety levels and increased 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 often include fatigue and lapses in memory or judgement. OSHA recorded in 2020 that 4,764 workers died on the job. Nearly half of the fatalities were workers in transportation, material moving occupations, construction and extraction occupations. 


    A well-designed digital PTW 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.

    The pitfalls of manual permit to work

    Digital technology 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.

    Despite this technology, many companies still maintain paper-based manual control of work processes and procedures that are susceptible to human error and other mistakes.

    OSHA standards in the U.S. and the EU's Seveso III Directive set strict rules to control and prevent major accidents with hazardous substances. Before starting risky tasks, companies internally issue permits to work. 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 serve as acknowledgment that hazardous work is underway. They document how hazards are controlled, when the work begins and ends and can be a useful record in case of an accident. Local building inspectors check for these permits, and having the correct documentation ensures compliance with local codes, avoiding expensive work delays.

    How cloud streamlines and automates the process

    Transitioning paper-based processes to the cloud enables users to access real-time digital dashboards for work and monitoring activities. Permits to work can be issued, modified and approved more efficiently, even if the approving supervisor is in a different location or time zone.

    Automated notifications replace costly and time-consuming manual approval processes. Automation facilitates electronic recordkeeping and job hazard analysis, enhancing safety protocols and risk mitigation practices. Digital documentation not only satisfies regulatory requirements but also streamlines communication for larger companies with diverse departments across expansive geographic areas. 

    How 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.

    In the era of mobile technology, the evolution of the digital permit to work system reflects an ongoing commitment to innovation. The challenges of managing process safety and operational risks have intensified, emphasizing the importance of worker safety. Consequently, operational and safety managers now require a clearer and faster overview of all hazardous work activities, accessible anytime and anywhere. A digital-first permit to work process, combined with an empowered mobile workforce, serves as a pivotal solution to meet the dynamic demands of modern safety management.

    Interested in learning more about what makes up an effective permit to work system? Check out our blog: What Is a Permit To Work System? A Complete Guide

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