PTW systems – keeping your workforce safe

On large Construction projects involving multiple companies, contracts and disciplines, establishing controlled safe access, strict risk management and live coordination is a serious challenge. One catastrophic offshore installation incident, the Piper Alpha disaster in 1998, led to a step change in attitudes to offshore safety. New permit to work systems were introduced that put an emphasis on safety, not just production. The same principles were later implemented in large onshore construction projects, although often in paper form.

Today, advancements in technology and mobile connectivity have enabled the development of modern digital PTW systems, which have consigned the old permit to work queues on sites to the past. Remote access capabilities have enabled Mega projects and multi-location offshore projects like wind farms to reach incredible standards in control, coordination and safety.

Dangershare provides experienced PTW teams and systems for both offshore and onshore projects.

“As a permit to work Coordinator for years both on and off shore, and seeing the struggles some sites have with keeping high standards of HSE, PTW really is the best way forward on all large projects. My first role offshore was the Piper Bravo construction project with Elf, just a stone’s throw away from where 167 people had perished on the Alpha. So many lessons were learnt and much has changed for the better since then.”
Darin Bainbridge, CEO

Benefits of a PTW system

A PTW system ensures that all high risk work carried out on a project is done safely. Trying to “recover” a project that has lost control or suffered a major incident is much harder than implementing safe system of working from the outset. A PTW system is a set of standardised prerequisites – HSE demands and checks that need to be satisfied prior to work being commenced.

They include:

  • Specification of who will do the work and when it will take place
  • Training and competency reviews
  • Risk assessments and method statements (RAMS)
  • Supporting equipment certification
  • Other relevant material information

Once a PTW request is reviewed, approved and ready to issue, a good PTW system will allow a live view of simultaneous operations (SIMOPS) requested or active in the surrounding area. This information can highlight works that may clash, or activities that should be segregated from each other, enabling priorities to be decided by management before personnel prepare, arrive and set up at a work area. A PTW System therefore not only provides a valuable HSE benefit but also improves coordination across the project and saves time. There are several App based and online PTW systems that offer digital storage of all documentation that supports the work, like as-built drawings, P&IDs, models, MSDS, equipment manuals and so on.

How PTW works in practice

Once PTW is operational, the 360 live view of all current and planned work gives Area Construction Leads an excellent overview of activities. Review hold points are established where dedicated Area Owners or Work Package Managers are able to check and approve the work to proceed. HSE also have a role to review RAMS before the PTW Team finally check, accept and issue permits when everything is in order.

The entire process can be done remotely, except of course the pre-start inspection of work areas, the lock out and tag out of any equipment needing such and the work face permit audits that the team carry out daily to ensure compliance. Utilising Geo mapping and wearable technology can show all workers and plant across vast sites live 24/7 and allows all associated documents for any activity to be immediately accessed. At permit close out upon work completion, all this information is stored.

Dangershare’s PTW Teams

Our team members are not only PTW experienced, but Electrical, Mechanical and HSE engineers who truly understand the work and the systems being built and commissioned.

Some regions or industries not used to Permit to Work can be wary at first. There is often a fear it will slow down progress. But, as we have recently proven again on a Mega Project, after the initial training and getting used to this new way of working, everyone benefits. The standards of risk awareness and management are raised leaving no ‘rogue’ companies that don’t comply with best practice HSE. Often these companies hold back because they don’t have the necessary core HSE standards readily available within their organisation. This is where our team shines. They assist and help the contractor develop the skills internally with 1-2-1 support and training until they understand and are capable in their own right.

Our focus is to help clients reach the highest HSE standards by establishing a culture of caring which allows safe and structured progress on projects from start to finish. Having worked for construction world leaders including Fluor, Jacobs, AMEC, SSE, RWE and for clients like Intel, Astrazeneca, National Grid, Scottish Power and Northvolt, best practice is always our goal. We have been fortunate to have support from likeminded professionals mostly, and when not, influencing, taking ownership and leading by example has always turned the tide to our and the project’s favour.

“You always pay for safety. You can either pay for good safety by investing early in competent and experienced HSE teams for the project OR you can pay at the end with a damaged reputation, fines, lost time and court actions due to bad safety that you then need to pay extra to recover”
Darin Bainbridge, CEO