Obtaining permits is an essential part of any live works project, but can often be time-consuming. Managing this process digitally with mobile apps can not only streamline the application process but improve the overall safety of your workers.

Working in a physical industry can be dangerous. That’s why it’s important to make sure that the correct risk assessments are carried out, as well as being certain that those working on a high-risk project are the best qualified for the job. Permits to Work are essential and, due to the nature and risk of the work, completing them correctly could be the difference between costing or saving a life.

What is a permit to work in a construction project?

A Permit to Work forms part of a COSHH pack in construction, and the HSE for rail. They are used to authorise high- risk work, which can include everything from hot works to working in confined spaces.

It features a risk assessment, in which the risks are weighed up, and allows the supervisors or managers of the works to determine the most suitable people for the job. It ensures that the workers know everything that could go wrong on the job, and are fully qualified and prepared for both the scope of the job ahead and the equipment they’re expected to use.

After being completed, the permit is then signed off by a supervisor to say that work can go ahead. The permits aren’t the sole document needed for work; they need to be completed alongside other health and safety documents.

Why is it important to obtain a permit to work?

Completing a permit to work allows the supervisor on site to make sure that every aspect of the hazardous or risky work is planned, authorised, and double checked. This mitigates any unforeseen problems that may arise from the work, and as a result, improves the safety of the people working.

Only allowing authorised workers to carry out the work means the supervisors can be happy that everybody taking part is fully qualified for this role, and that they can handle what is required, and that they know how to safely operate the equipment.

It also confirms that the worksite and equipment has been checked. This prevents the chance that, for example, a tunnel being worked in collapses, or a piece of equipment breaks or malfunctions, both of which could have dangerous, if not fatal, consequences.

On top of being used for safety, a Permit to Work is also an important factor when looking at accountability. For example, if something does go wrong, the Permit will allow auditors or investigators to know exactly who was using a certain tool, at what time, and where, as well as who performed the pre- work checks. On the less dangerous side, it also ensures that the work is actually completed on time, as the permit will state the time frame that the work will be carried out within.

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For actionable tips on how to save time and money by migrating to a digital permit system, why not learn from some of the success stories in our Case Studies?

Why use a digital permit to work system?

As mentioned before, permits to work are critical for auditing and safety purposes. However, as with all paper-based processes, there is always the risk of the forms being lost, damaged, or not completed at all.

Using a digital permit to work app negates the possibility of problems associated with paper forms, as every worker who needs the app can access it any time, anywhere at their fingertips. It also introduces better accountability for completing forms, as there is a clear audit trail of who has completed what, which ensures that critical forms, like the permit, are accurately and properly completed.

A digital permit app will allow the supervisors and authorised persons to complete the form through their device, without the need for a form to be passed around on site. It can then be signed off digitally, which in turn will allow the work to commence far quicker than the traditional process.

The data from the app is then saved securely, on either Nutshell’s own database or one of the supported API plugins. This minimises the friction of integrating a digital form and replacing paper processes, as the data can then be pulled to the same place as legacy data. As a result, auditing and compliance checks are made into a far easier and more streamlined process, as well as the worry of lost data when paper goes missing being eradicated.

A permit to work app slashes the amount of admin work required when completing forms. This is due to the fact all completed forms and data is held in one place, as there is no need to print, file and sort the old paper based processes. As a result of less printing and admin hours, having a digital process in place will also save money. The added accountability, more thorough completion, and easier auditing can also result in lives on the railways being saved, especially when partaking in high- risk work.

How can I digitise my Permit to Work?

While it may sound like a lot of work to digitise, there are plenty of solutions out there to help you find the best way to digitise your permits.


PermitVision is a web-based permit to work system. It allows permits to be monitored and issued from the web browser. However, it doesn’t have a dedicated mobile version, and as such, is limited only to use on desktops.

Nutshell Apps

Nutshell is an all-in-one digitisation tool. Using no code technology allows a business to quickly and efficiently roll out bespoke apps to iOS, Android and desktop. With an inbuilt database and various API integrations, it also means all data is securely stored in one place, resulting in easier access. It allows for each form to be individually crafted to suit the business needs, for everything from form field location and size, to the branding and colours applied.

WPS (Work Permit System)

WPS is another specialist ePermit software. It is available on Web and smartphones, however it is not a standalone container and must be accessed through the web, regardless of device. It allows for permits to be requested and saved, however it doesn’t offer any customisation of forms or branding to be applied, and the form is standard and the same for all companies.


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