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Permits to work are a formal management system used to control high risk activities. These enable an assessment of risks to be made and to specify control measures which will be put in place in order to minimise the risk.
Examples of the types of work for which permits will be required include:
The intention of the permit to work is to:
The process for drawing up a permit to work, as outlined in the Health and safety: Permit to work flowchart.
The permit should usually be drawn up by the University member of staff who has arranged for the work to take place, the person who is supervising the work.
A permit to work will be required if a risk assessment carried out following examination of the contractor’s method statement indicates that there is a risk of a hazard such as a fall from height, a fall of an object from height, exposure to radiation or hazardous fumes or any other significant hazard. In which case the measures taken to minimise the risk will be indicated in section 4 of the permit.
Whenever possible, the need to enter confined spaces should be avoided, alternative methods should be considered to undertake the task. Entry by a person should only be undertaken if there is no reasonable alternative.
A confined space is defined as ‘any place, including any chamber, tank, vat, silo, pit, trench, pipe, sewer, flue, well or similar space in which, by virtue of its enclosed nature, there arises a reasonably foreseeable specified risk’
Foreseeable risks include:
A lack of oxygen. This can occur: - where there is a reaction between some soils and the oxygen in the atmosphere; - following the action of groundwater on chalk and limestone which can produce carbon dioxide and displace normal air; - inside steel tanks and vessels when rust forms.
If a risk assessment indicates that the oxygen level may be low, arrangements should be made to measure the oxygen level at the place of work within the confined space, before entering. The confined space must not be entered unless the oxygen level is in the range 18-22%. Details of the appropriate measurements, and results, if necessary, will be given in section 3 of the permit.
If the oxygen levels are below 18% it may be appropriate to permit suitably trained personnel to enter the confine space using an appropriate form of breathing apparatus. Details of the methods to be used will be given in section 4 of the permit.
Poisonous gas, fume or vapour. These can: - build-up in sewers and manholes and in pits connected to the system; - enter tanks or vessels from connecting pipes; - leak into trenches and pits in contaminated land, such as old refuse tips and old gas works.
If a risk assessment indicates that there is a reasonable possibility that poisonous or asphyxiating gases may be present, appropriate steps must be made to measure their concentration, before entering the confined space. Details of the appropriate measurements, and results, if necessary, will be given in section 4 of the permit. If dangerously high levels of a poisonous or asphyxiating gas are found to be present, it may be appropriate to permit suitably trained personnel to enter the confined space using an appropriate form of breathing apparatus. Details of the methods to be used will be given in section 3 of the permit.
Entry to the confined space should be prohibited if a risk assessment indicates that there is a reasonable possibility that there may be flammable liquids or vapours present which may give rise to a fire or explosion.
Entry to the confined space should be prohibited unless the possibility of the entry of liquids and solids which can suddenly fill the space, which may result in a person being drowned, asphyxiated or otherwise injured, has been eliminated. If it is necessary to put such isolations in place, these will be indicated in section 4 of the permit.
If a risk assessment indicates that hot conditions may exist which could lead to a dangerous increase in body temperature, appropriate steps will be taken, for example, limiting the exposure time, in order to minimise the risk of injury. The appropriate steps will be indicated in section 4 of the permit.
The means by which a person in a confined space can escape or be rescued in the event of an emergency should be indicated in section 4 of the permit.
Hot work includes working with flame cutting apparatus, oxyacetylene welding apparatus, electric welding apparatus, blow lamps, grinding equipment, working with bitumen boilers or any other equipment producing flame, intense heat or sparks.
The following precautions must be in place:
If a risk assessment indicates that additional precautions are required, these will be indicated in section 4 of the permit.
A permit to work is required for all excavation work, digging of trenches and the like which is carried out within University premises.
Prior to issuing the permit, the person arranging the work to take place will ensure that there is sufficient information regarding underground services such as electricity and data cable runs, water or gas pipe work and will have sufficient information regarding ground conditions and surrounding buildings. The Directorate of Estates and Facilities Management’s Tree and Construction Policy and Procedure will be followed where digging operations are to occur in the vicinity of trees. This policy is available from the Directorate’s Property Safety Health and Safety Officer
Where contractors are to carry out excavations they must provide a method statement which is to give details of the method of excavation, precautions to prevent trench collapse, fencing around the trench, PPE to be utilised and the process for reinstatement of the excavation.
Similar procedures will be followed for permits for other hazardous procedures, including live working on electricity supply systems, work involving interaction with asbestos and work in areas where there is a risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals or microorganisms.