For people to work safely on oil and gas equipment, both during normal operations and interventions such as routine maintenance or repairs, there needs to be a robust system for controlling their actions. This process is commonly known as Permit to Work (PTW). PTW is a formal, recorded process used to control work which is identified as potentially hazardous. Without one the safety of the operators and the integrity of the asset are placed in jeopardy, and historically failures in PTW systems have resulted in many fatalities.
IBM is very experienced in developing and implementing electronic PTW (ePTW) systems that manage and support the PTW process. This paper uses one such development and implementation to illustrate the requirements of a typical ePTW system. It discusses the planning of the work to be managed, the risk assessment of the hazards and their mitigation through controls. It also looks at the requirements for safely isolating sources of energy before the work is started; how this is integrated with the permit workflow, and how the work is safely completed and closed. Finally it discusses the technical requirements for ePTW systems and is illustrated using real examples of the problems solved during actual implementations, the benefits gained and the lessons learned.