Why are businesses still so reliant on paper-based permit to work systems?

The traditional, current Permits to Work are a paper-based system, which offers plenty of scope for improvement. Permit To Work (PTW) refers to management systems used to ensure that work is done safely and efficiently. These are used in hazardous industries and involve procedures to request, review, authorise, document and most importantly, de-conflict tasks to be carried out by front line workers.


It’s difficult to imagine an area of our society which has not been positively impacted by digitalisation. While we can be resistant to change at times, industry has evolved through making changes. Which begs to ask the question, why has PTW not been digitalised across the workplace. Surely, your employee’s safety is of utmost importance?

PTW has been paper-based in the past, providing the documented procedures used to control high-risk activities. However, the limitations paper has acquired over the years has invoked a disconnection between policies and what’s happening on the ground, leaving workers unprotected and duty holders exposed. Reduced speed and transparency are just two of many limitations of paper resulting in insufficient data at the point of decision-making. These limitations can result in corners being cut and processes circumvented when under pressure. An Operative with paper in his hand stating ‘it’s safe to work’ often concludes that to be the case even when it may not be. Even where the procedures are strictly adhered to as designed, a paper-based process still lacks the reporting and auditing capabilities required in a modern business. This is when electronic permits or e-permits become valuable. They can emulate the positive ‘design’ aspects of existing PTW processes while eliminating the operational issues of paper.


 Using an electronic PTW system offers some crucial benefits over a paper system. It is the difference between achieving operational excellence and operational adequacy. The benefits include:

  • Easier management of permits by a group of staff including Risk and Method Statements.
  • Managers have full visibility and “are able to see the status of all permits
  • Permits that are of interest to them, upcoming expirations and potential works conflict are automatically identified
  • Mobility – users and managers can manage permits while on the move (worldwide)
  • More accurate compliance with health and safety
  • Increased functionality to manage work and risk
  • Significantly easier and faster to use
  • Complex works that may require multiple permits can be grouped by the system
  • No need for re-writing duplicate permits when a permit needs to be reissued or extended.
  • Permits are quicker to find through search functionalities

Another big advantage of e-PTW systems is their power to share information, together with its ease of access and visibility. This, along with automated communication features such as notifying people who need to be involved and providing a rapid route to the information they need to see, is a major benefit for work control

You can find out more on our electronic Permit to Work system by visiting our Q4 Control of Work page.

Why not book a demo and experience how our evolving digital technologies will impact your business for the better?


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