Guidance Note 12 – Permit to work systems

This Guidance Note gives practical information about permit to work systems.

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A sample template has been included in Appendix 1. If you wish to use this template to construct your own documents, you must ensure that all references to Alcumus SafeContractor Accreditation have been removed and the final documents are clearly incorporated into your existing safety management system.

A permit to work (PTW) is a formal written safety control system that is implemented to help prevent accident or injury to personnel, prevent damage to plant/machinery and to prevent damage to a product or to a client site. This is, in particular, required when the work has foreseeable high risk content. The operation of a permit to work system is particularly useful when contractors are on site i.e. for maintenance or installation purposes. The aim of a permit to work system is to remove both unsafe conditions and human error by imposing a formal system which requires formal action.

Typical areas / work activities that should be covered by a permit include:

Work involving contractors in any of the above activities on or about your premises.

Key points

Permitted conditions

Listed below are some examples of control measures that should be considered when issuing a permit (not exhaustive):

Hot works


Once the permit comes into operation, where necessary, warning signs and often a lookout need to be posted around the area where work is being undertaken. When working on machinery and / or electrical systems, they should be physically isolated i.e. locked off (possibly with the contractor’s own padlock) etc. When plant is isolated, it should be stated as being such on the permit.

Cancellation of a permit

When the operations laid out in the permit have been completed, it should be cancelled immediately and returned to the originator. They should ensure that the work detailed on the permit has been done satisfactorily. They should then sign off the permit to ensure that it is fully cancelled.

NOTE: This may only be done when all personnel and equipment involved in the work detailed on the permit has been removed from the permit working area.

Returning to service

The plant or work area etc. may now be returned to service. The person responsible for the plant or work area must be satisfied that it is safe to do this – this person might require a final inspection before countersigning the final close of the permit.


All staff should be made aware of the importance of the use and procedure of permit to work systems when they are in place or introduced into the workplace.


Permit to work forms should incorporate the following features:

Further guidance