Article #047 Managing Health, Safety, and Environment Permits to Work on Construction Projects


One of the key requirements for the health, safety, and environment (HSE) management plan on construction projects is to have a formal procedure for controlling activities that are considered high-risk. Permits to Work is the process used to allow authorized personnel to perform those activities at specified times and in a way set out in the permit and referenced documents. A permit to work is a must to prevent high-risk work to be carried out without undertaking a formal risk assessment using predefined checklists.

A permit to work is usually required for live electrical works, hot works, excavation, lone working, lifting operations, life shaft entry, de-shuttering of formwork, edge protection and floor openings removal, work in confined spaces, work at height, work to roofs, mast climber and cradle, temporary works, demolition, pressure testing among many others.

Using Project Management Information Systems (PMIS) like PMWeb will enable the HSE management team to formalize the process for submitting, evaluating, and issuing the different types of permits to work as well as keep track of all issued permits and their status. PMWeb custom form builder will be used to create a permit to work form which will be specific to each type of permit. This is needed as the list of perquisites as well as the general requirements for a permit to work could differ depending on the type of permit.

For example, the Hot Work Permit is needed for activities that can be a source of ignition when flammable material is present or can be a fire hazard regardless of the presence of flammable material in the workplace. Common hot work activities involve welding, soldering, cutting, brazing burning, and the use of powder-actuated tools or similar fire-producing operations outside of designated hot work areas. Therefore, the list of perquisites for a hot permit would even differ from a cold permit where flammable materials are not present and of course all other types of permits that have another list of perquisites.

The Hot Work Permit form header will include details that relate to the project, company requesting the permit, permit validity, operator, fire watcher, type of hot permit, actual permit start and finish date and time, and other details that are needed for the Hot Work Permit. The header could include any additional information that the HSE management team believes is needed to better manage the hot permit process. It is highly recommended to standardize the fields that are common to another permit-to-work type including having a predefined list of values to select from. This will not only expedite the process of preparing those forms and reduce the chances of entry error mistakes but will also allow the creation of reports and dashboards using the data captured across all those permits.

In addition, the Hot Work Permit form will have a list of predefined perquisites that need to be reviewed before issuing the permit. The list of predefined perquisites captures the HSE team’s experience in managing such processes and should be always updated with new items when it is found necessary. The person evaluating the permit needs to check each prerequisite and confirm if it has been done or available by selecting “Yes” or not done or not available by selecting “No” or if it is not applicable by selecting “NA”.

The attachment tab will be used to upload and attach all documents and pictures that are relevant to the Hot Work Permit. Those documents and pictured will be stored under their specified file folder in the PMWeb document management repository.

The workflow will be used to capture the evaluation and review steps needed to issue the Hot Work Permit and close the permit when the specified scope of work is completed. This will ensure accountability when it comes to issuing Hot Work Permits.

The Hot Work Permit output form can be designed in the exact layout format that the HSE management team wants. In addition to the header and perquisites fields, the form can be designed to automatically capture the signature fields details from the workflow steps as well as it can be designed to display the list of attached documents at the end of the form.

PMWeb reporting tool can be used to create a log of the Hot Work Permits as well as all other permits that are issued on the project. The log will summarize the status of the issued Hot Work Permits and other relevant important details. Another report can be generated that will report on the workflow status of the requested permits to ensure that there are no delays in issuing those permits and where is it held for review and approval.

The HSE Management can have a single dashboard that captures the details of all Permit to Work issued on the organization’s complete projects portfolio covering all permit types. The dashboard will provide HSE Management, Project Manager, and other executive stakeholders with details on all issued permits on the project or across the complete project portfolio that the organization has.

About the Authorfounder

Bassam Samman, PMP, PSP, EVP, GPM is a Senior Project Management Consultant with more than 35-year service record providing project management and control services to over 100 projects with a total value of over US $5 Billion. Those projects included Commercial, Residential, Education and Healthcare Buildings and Infrastructure, Entertainment and Shopping Malls, Oil and Gas Plants and Refineries, and Telecommunication and Information Technology projects. He is thoroughly experienced in complete project management including project management control systems, computerized project control software, claims analysis/prevention, risk analysis/management (contingency planning), design, supervision, training, and business development.

Bassam is a frequent speaker on topics relating to Project Management, Strategic Project Management, and Project Management Personal Skills. Over the past 35 years, he has lectured at more than 350 events and courses at different locations in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and South America. He has written more than 250 articles on project management and project management information systems that were featured in international and regional magazines and newspapers. He is a co-founder of the Project Management Institute- Arabian Gulf Chapter (PMI-AGC) and has served on its board of directors for more than 6 years. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI), a certified Planning and Scheduling Professional (PSP), and Earned Value Professional (EVP) from the American Association of Cost Engineers (AACE) and Green Project Management (GPM).

Bassam holds a Masters in Engineering Administration (Construction Management) with Faculty Commendation, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA, Bachelor in Civil Engineering – Kuwait University, Kuwait and has attended many executive management programs at Harvard Business School, Boston, USA and London Business School, London, UK.

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