Traditional Permit to Work management systems are usually defined by one thing: paperwork.
Between risk assessments, safety audits, training records and plant records, all of this documentation can inhibit the permit handover process and communication between stakeholders.
As the demand for digital permits rises, we wanted to take a look why you should bring your permits into the 21st century. In this blog post we have some of the main takeaways from our recent webinar (co-hosted with SHP): 'The Challenges & Benefits of Digitising Your Permit Process', read on to find out more!
1. Digital permits mean more control and oversight
According to our panel, depending on the size and function of the business, it can be difficult to have oversight of permits currently in use. The H&S team may not know what permits are live, who has issued them etc. Traditional permit to work systems also use a large amount of paper.
In a scenario described by Jennifer Lea, Risk Manager at property management company Bruntwood, every location may have its own (physical) permit book. This not only creates an excessive amount of paper work, but it means that the H&S team does not have access to vital information such as who is signed into a property. These issues are exacerbated by the presence of 3rd party contractors.
A permit management software needs to be able to centralise the process for the H&S team, who cannot be everwhere at once. You need to be able to visualise your upcoming permits, live permits and locations of work to streamline your handover process.
Webinar Poll: Are you currently software to manage your permit process?Yes - 13%No - 63%No, but we are looking for a solution - 23%
2. A digital permit system must be flexible
At the minimum, any permit to work software needs to perfom all the same processes as your traditional management system. However, it should also enhance and improve them. According to panellist Darragh Geoghegan, PTW software systems can bring a flexibility to the permit process that paper cannot.
Permit to Work software systems enable users to do a lot of the work before employees/ contractors even set foot on site. A good system will let you set access levels for employees, let you reject and extend permits and adopt a proactive approach instead of just reacting.
Software also opens up mobile capabilities for permit management, meaning that you can activiely engage your employees in the process. Our panel agreed that a combined approach of desktop and mobile permit management was the most effective.
Of course, you have to have employees (and perhaps even contractors) on side when introducing any software. Its a good idea to have employees involved in the software selection as early as possible, take on their feedback and address their concerns.
3. Your digital permit system needs to manage contractors too
Contractor management is a vital part of the permit process, and software needs to be able to deal with many different scenarios. Paper based permit management systems are relying on your contractors to provide their own documentation, in most cases requiring you to chase up certificates and records.
According to Robert Jukes, Health Safety & Environment Manager at Wax Lyrical, its important to be able to monitor the performance of contractors and whether works are being performed, and communicate any changes quickly.
Your permit to work management system needs to respond to these changing situations. Your system needs to be able to communicate both internally externally, especially to your supply chain and contractors.
A good system should contain all contractor approval documentation and make it easy for them to accept, reject or request extensions on permits.
4. The Covid-19 pandemic had hastened the need for PTW software
Unsurprisingly, the impact of Covid-19 has had a dramatic effect on the need to digitise all safety processes, not just permits. With so many workforces being scattered, its no longer practical to rely on employees being able to make it in to a specific location to collect documentation.
As Darragh Geoghegan pointed out, remote access could benefit permit management by reducing face-to-face time spent collecting and signing off on permits and during permit handover. Having your permit management system digitised means that work doesn't have to grind to a halt.
Permit to Work management software can streamline your processes, assist in contractor management and help keep businesses running when the unxpected occurs. If you want to read more about how software can change your permit to work system, download our Ultimate Guide To Permit Software.