When you know that 30% of fires are caused by hot work operations and that 70% of companies that are victims of serious fires do not recover, you can understand the importance of a structured regulatory approach such as the hot work permit.
Commonly performed in companies as well as in local authorities, hot work operations involve major administrative procedures that can be handled by a digital tool. What is a hot work permit? Who writes it? How can digital technology ease the administrative burden? Answers to follow.
What is a hot work permit?
The hot work permit is a safety approval document for the start of work that may cause a fire. It is compulsory when there is hot work, regardless of whether the work is carried out internally or via an external service provider.
Hot works are activities that emit heat or sparks (welding, cutting, bitumen sealing, etc...) and can lead to the outbreak of a fire, either by direct contact, radiation, conduction through a pipe or wall, or by convection.
Accident analyses show that there is no relationship between accidentology and the size of the construction site and that, in general, it is the lack of preparation, haste and lack of preventive measures that are to blame rather than a technical failure.
The hot work permit is an integral part of the company's risk prevention approach and the Single Occupational Risk Assessment Document (SRAD or Single Risk Assessment Document). It is also included in specific prevention documents such as the Individual Health and Safety Protection Plan or Prevention Plan.
The hot work permit must be precise and clearly explained. The risks related to the working environment are recorded, as well as those related to activities and co-activities.
NB: For interventions in an ATEX zone, a work permit or intervention permit in the ATEX zone is necessary to complete the general permits (work permit, hot work permit, prevention plan, Individual Health and Safety Protection Plan...)
What is the role of stakeholders?
A construction site requiring a hot work permit is managed, supervised and executed by various actors from the User Company (UC) and the Intervening Company (IC).
The User Company is the employer or his representative, who draws up the hot work permit and validates the execution of the work under the defined conditions. The work manager or supervisor provides technical supervision of the work and the safety officer ensures that the work site runs smoothly and that the rules set out in the hot work permit are respected.
The Intervening Company (IC) is the person in charge of the intervention, who is technically competent to ensure that the activity is carried out correctly and safely. The operator is the person who carries out the operation.
The hot work permit must be validated by the User Company's representatives as well as by the person in charge of the intervention from the Intervening Company. After signing, each person receives a copy of the hot work permit. The worker then reads the intervention and safety instructions. The hot work permit must be accessible and available for consultation during all phases of the work.
Its validity is limited to the duration of the operation (including a minimum of 2 hours of post-operative monitoring to ensure that a slow-burning fire has not been ignited) and must be clearly indicated in the permit.
Given the challenges of Health and Safety at work and taking into consideration the ever-tighter deadlines for the completion of sites and the number of interlocutors, it is essential to find solutions to lighten the administrative procedures without making them too cumbersome. Rather, the idea is to save time while improving efficiency and quality so that activities can be carried out smoothly with the objective of "Zero Accidents".
The Covid-19 marked a turning point in the digitisation of professional activities. Today, everyone is aware of new technologies in their personal and professional lives. It is obvious that our OHS approaches must be digitised to be more efficient.
The implementation of a digital hot work permit
The first thing you notice when you have to draw up a hot work permit is the amount of data to be centralised in a single document and the number of people involved. These procedures are a source of errors, omissions and redundancies and, above all, are time-consuming.
Here's how a digital tool can simplify your daily life when drawing up hot work permits, but also any other safety document.
Centralisation of information and Electronic Document Management (EDM)
A dedicated tool (such as BlueKanGo) lists, categorises and quantifies occupational risks by centralising the information and ensuring that the latest version of the document is always being used. This way, all parties involved in a project can work on the same document to compile data related to the work and the work environment.
Occupational Risk Assessment and Action Plan
The action plan can be directly linked to the risk phrases in the Single Document and to the hot work permit, which ensures that the actions to be taken are updated and evolve in real time. The documents are alive, evolving and ensure consistency from day to day.
Notifications by SMS, email or via the platform inform those in charge of actions in real time of the tasks to be carried out. The follow-up is optimal without having to multiply the exchanges by email or telephone and without having to follow-up with collaborators, everything is automated.
Formalisation and reporting
The digital tool allows to fill in all the fields required in the elaboration of the permits and automatically formalises the report. Adapted workflows allow real-time notification of these reports for review, correction and approval by stakeholders.
Validation circuit and electronic signature
After a joint inspection visit and the drafting of the permit, approval is given remotely, directly via the digital platform thanks to the implementation of adapted workflows (automated approval procedures). You can use electronic signature at each stage of a process in order to secure and simplify it.
Hazard statement or Occupational accident/disease
Of course no one wishes this, but if it happens, what could be more painful than the administrative procedures with organisations like the national health insurance office? How about a tool that records and archives your statements internally, calculates your contribution rates in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises every year, and moreover is able to compare your recorded data with those provided by the national health insurance office to identify any errors that are costly for your company in real time? (see article How to reduce your Occupational accident/disease costs thanks to digital).
At a time when the number of QHSE regulations are increasing and as they become more and more restrictive, the support of a digital tool to relieve teams, save time and improve quality is no longer an option but a necessity. It will be your best ally on site to draw up your hot work permits or any other safety document without the risk of forgetting elements or recipients and in a very short time. Don't waste any more time with paperwork. Concentrate on the operational side and your "Zero accident" objective will be within reach.
To go further:
Thibaut Gilles est ingénieur QHSE de formation. Après plusieurs années sur le terrain, il est aujourd'hui content Manager chez BlueKanGo, spécialiste des questions HSE/EHSQ Engineer by trade and Content Manager @Bluekango / Ingeniero EHSQ por comercio y Gerente de Contenido @Bluekango/