What is Permit to Work System?

There are many types of operation on board ship when the routine actions of one person may inadvertently endanger another, or when a series of action steps needs to be taken to ensure the safety of those engaged in a specific operation. In all instances, it is necessary, before the work is done, to identify the hazards and then to ensure that they are eliminated or effectively controlled. Ultimate responsibility rests with the Company to see that this is done.

The permit to work system consists of an organised and predefined safety procedure. A permit to work does not in itself make the job safe, but contributes to measures for safe working.

The safety management system for individual ships will determine when permit to work systems should be used, and the form of the permit to work.

In using a permit to work, the following principles apply

  • The permit should be relevant and as accurate as possible. It should state the location and details of the work to be done, the nature and results of any preliminary tests undertaken, the measures undertaken to make the job safe and the safeguards that need to be taken during the operation.
  • The permit should specify the period of its validity (which should not exceed 24 hours) and any time limits applicable to the work that it authorises.
  • Only the work specified on the permit should be undertaken.
  • Before signing the permit, the authorized officer should ensure that all measures specified as necessary have in fact been taken, or procedures are in place.
  • The authorized officer retains responsibility for the work until they have either closed the Permit or formally transferred it to another authorized officer who should be made fully conversant with the situation. Anyone who takes over from the authorized officer, either as a matter of routine or in an emergency, should sign the permit to indicate transfer of full responsibility.
  • The competent person responsible for carrying out the specified work should countersign the permit to indicate their understanding of the safety precautions to be observed.
  • On completion of the work, the competent person should notify the authorized officer and get the permit closed.
  • The competent person carrying out the specified work should not be the same person as the authorized officer.



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