Menu

Why a Work Permit is needed for Hazardous Work to ensure safety for all involved

Published on 18 Oct 2019 by ES Staff


The Work Permit is designed to ensure full communication takes place between the area(s) involved, the owner of the affected equipment, and individual(s) performing the work so that hazardous work, and non hazardous work, is performed safely and efficiently.

  • A Work Permit authorizes hazardous or potentially hazardous work.
  • The Work Permit provides a written exchange of safety information and requirements between operating, mechanical, and contractor groups prior to starting work in an area where safety hazards are anticipated or present. All safety requirements are to be observed and strictly followed.
  • Although non-hazardous work, as described in this procedure, may not require an authorized Work Permit, good communication with area personnel and common understanding of the job is required.
  • Individuals must observe the personnel accounting and visitor sign in procedures of the area in which they are working.

Hazardous work includes, but is not limited to:

  • Electrical Substation repairs and terminations
  • Closed Vessel and Confined Space Entry
  • Bypassing safety interlocks
  • Flame work
  • Cutting into, disconnecting and blanking lines and equipment
  • Unplugging lines or equipment
  • Non-destructive testing of all lines and equipment involving hazardous materials
  • Non-destructive testing of lines and equipment involving testing techniques (e.g., tapping, chipping or scraping the outside surface of equipment or piping) that may result in potential breakthrough of non-hazardous materials
  • Excavating, digging, underground repairs
  • Operating unguarded equipment
  • Crane operation adjacent to power lines, operating equipment and piping
  • Working adjacent to Relief Valve Discharge Vents
  • Insulation, refractory brick, or other work involving potential asbestos or NARF fibers (Non-Asbestos Respirable Fibers)
  • Roof Work

High-Hazard Process Equipment

A process or system that contains any material at any pressure or extreme temperature (high or low) that could cause a risk of injury, risk of fire or explosion, an environmental risk, or off-site risk. Examples of hazardous processes or systems include, but are not limited to: compressed fluids, especially gases in pipes and vessels; acid; flammable liquid or gas; toxic process, and inhalation or contact hazard materials including fluid hotter than 140 degrees F or colder than 14 degrees F.

1. Requirements

A Work Permit is required for all hazardous work. In addition to a Work Permit, special permits must be completed for extraordinary types of hazardous work, such as but not limited to:

  • Entering confined spaces
  • Excavations
  • Line Break

Hazardous work not covered by operating instructions or authorized special procedures and performed by operating employees requires a Work Permit (example, when additional communication with other operating employees, particularly with supervision, and/or a written exchange of safety information for reference is desired).

Where non-hazardous work is to be done by individuals not assigned to or not familiar with the operating area, the person doing or leading the work should contact the responsible operator, or supervisor, for that area or equipment. They are to confirm whether or not a Work Permit is required, allowing them to gain understanding of the job and its relation to area operations at that time. In all cases, good communications must take place between area personnel and the individual(s) doing work.

All contractors should also be governed by these requirements. Compliance with these requirements and other Company safety requirements is mandatory.

Permits are terminated when:

  • The work is completed and housekeeping is completed in a satisfactory condition
  • The specified time period for the permit is reached
  • The work scope being performed changes in any way that impacts the original job scope (i.e. set-up, line break permit, lock out etc.)

2. Roles and Responsibilities

Work Permit Initiator

  • Ensure that the job description is adequate to ensure understanding of the scope and location of the work to be performed
  • Identify work group
  • Identify special permits required to complete the job, if known

Area Equipment Owner/Supervisor

The person issuing or processing a work order may indicate a work permit is required and initiate the Work Permit, but area supervision or designee is responsible for assuring hazardous or potentially hazardous work is performed under a Work Permit.

Designated area supervisor authorizing Work Permits must first:

  • Verify that the scope of the work falls within the boundaries of the set-up (i.e. does the location of the line break fall within the lock-out?)
  • Specify start and expiration date/time
  • Ensure that special permits have been completed, if required
  • Check for hazards in the area where the work is to be performed, along with the person performing the work
  • Ensure that hazardous materials are evacuated and/or isolated, as needed
  • Specify the types of hazards with the associated equipment to be worked on
  • Specify the minimum personal protective equipment required
  • List the minimum safety precautions to address the identified hazards
  • Coordinate work with any adjacent activities

Good communication between the area supervisor and the person(s) who will be working on the equipment is essential to ensure the work is done in a safe manner. The area supervisor of the equipment must understand the scope of the work to be performed prior to signing the work permit. With the exception of the tasks listed that do not require the area supervisor to do a field check, the area supervisor is required to go out to the field with the person who is to do the work so that he/she understands what is to be done and to ensure that the scope of the work is within the boundaries of the set-up.

The tasks listed below do not require that the area supervisor go out to the field with the worker.

  • Analyzer calibration
  • Inspect emergency lighting
  • Vibration tests not requiring equipment lock-out
  • External non-destructive testing
  • Thermography
  • Instrument and analyzer tests, checks, troubleshooting and calibrations not requiring equipment lock-out
  • Assistance to operations related to routine (more than monthly) cleaning of process equipment not requiring equipment lockout

Designated area supervisor re-authorizing or extending Work Permits must first:

  • Re-evaluate for potential conflicts and hazards when work is being authorized to re-start following an emergency event stoppage
  • Ensure that the oncoming area supervisor is familiar with the status of the work being performed if the Work Permit is being extended beyond the shift in which it originates

In order to ensure that the equipment worked on is turned back over to production in safe condition, thorough communication must take place between the worker and the area supervisor. The area supervisor should accompany the worker out to the field for a visual inspection of the equipment and work area.

Designated area supervisor terminating Work Permit must first:

  • Confirm status of equipment
  • Confirm that the work area is left in a safe and clean condition

Work Group

Work group individuals working under Work Permit must first:

  • Understand the scope of the job, potential hazards, and safety requirements before they print their name and initial the permit
  • Conduct field review of the job set-up and area with the area supervisor of the equipment, with the exception of the tasks listed that do not require the area supervisor to do a field check
  • Verify they are trained and qualified to perform the work
  • Understand the emergency procedures for the area they will be working in
  • Understand their responsibility to adhering to the conditions of the permit and stopping work if such conditions change

Work group representative terminating Work Permit must first:

  • Indicate status of job and equipment
  • Ensure that the work area is left in a safe and clean condition
  • If the work involved high-hazard process equipment, it is the worker’s responsibility, if applicable, to verify the following, as applicable, before considering the work complete
    • All repairs consistent with original design
    • Work was done per maintenance procedures
    • All materials used in repair meet specification
    • Bolts torqued to specifications - no short bolts
    • All electrical devices and piping reconnected
    • Equipment guards in place
    • All pipe stands, supports, hangers and anchors re-installed
    • Proper gaskets installed
    • Correct fuses installed
    • All gauges working
    • Equipment ground reinstalled, if applicable, and checked
    • Correct rotation
    • Housekeeping – all tools, nuts, bolts, gaskets, lubricants, and pallets removed, hoses rolled up
    • Scaffolds, barricades and other obstructions removed, if no longer needed
    • Interlocks returned to normal
    • Oil level checked



Tags: Work Permit Hazardous Work