Managing safety at a wind farm or a solar energy plant remains challenging. And this is because workers do not have access to the required digital tools, and there is a lack of communication due to remote locations and limited use of technology. Additionally, maintenance work at these plants comes with many risks. If the maintenance is not planned and streamlined, it can lead to irreversible mishaps.
So how does the renewable sector deal with the challenges of permit-to-work processes? Of course, it follows all the procedures according to the defined rules, but is that enough? Isn’t there more to permit to work process than just following the system?
Well, in this article, we aim to cover everything the renewable sector requires for a successful permit-to-work system. Right from having ePTW software to ensuring all safety protocols are met, we shall throw light on everything needed.
We know that Permit to Work (PTW) systems are designed to help manage high-risk activities by ensuring appropriate safety measures before work begins.
In the renewable energy sector, several challenges are associated with implementing and maintaining an effective PTW system; let us briefly study them.
Complexity of work
Renewable energy projects often involve complex and high-risk work, such as working at heights, in confined spaces, or with hazardous materials. This can make it challenging to identify all potential hazards associated with a particular task and ensure that all necessary safety measures are in place.
Changing weather conditions
Weather conditions like wind, rain, and sun heavily influence the renewable energy sector. These conditions can change rapidly and unpredictably, making planning and executing work activities difficult. Additionally, the weather conditions can get extreme, making it challenging to work on-site.
Many renewable energy projects are located in remote or offshore locations, which can present logistical challenges when it comes to managing permits, coordinating work activities, communicating, and responding to emergencies.
The renewable energy sector is subject to a wide range of regulations and standards related to safety, environmental protection, and other factors. Ensuring compliance with these regulations can be complex and time-consuming, particularly for companies operating in multiple jurisdictions.
The renewable energy sector presents unique challenges for implementing an effective PTW system. However, there are solutions that can prioritize safety to mitigate risks and ensure that the PTW processes are carried out safely while adhering to all regulations.
Thanks to technology and safety professionals, every safety challenge has a unique solution. So it is proven that challenges in the safety aspect can be easily solved with the right approach and set of comprehensive solutions.
Similarly, here are the solutions that can help address the challenges of Permit to Work (PTW) systems in the renewable energy sector.
Conducting thorough and regular risk assessments can help identify and manage hazards associated with renewable energy activities. This can help ensure all necessary safety measures are in place before work begins.
Providing comprehensive safety training for workers can help ensure that they understand the hazards associated with their work and are equipped with the skills and knowledge to work safely. This can include training on emergency response, hazard identification, and safe work practices.
Utilizing real-time monitoring systems can help identify changing weather conditions, potential safety hazards, and other risks in real time, allowing for prompt action to be taken. This monitoring can greatly help while allotting PTW permits.
Communication and Collaboration
Effective communication and collaboration between workers, contractors, and management are critical for ensuring that everyone is aware of potential hazards and that all necessary safety measures are in place. And especially in the PTW process, seamless communication is the key to its successful implementation.
Adopting ePTW software can help improve safety, efficiency, and accuracy in PTW systems. This includes proper procedures for tracking permits, automating hazard identification and risk assessments, and providing real-time data and analytics for decision-making.
So let us dive deeper into what ePTW software is and its benefits.
The ePTW Software For Renewable Energy Sector
An ePTW software is an end-to-end solution that can sync operational, maintenance, scheduled, and unscheduled works in organizations. It is a compliance tool distributed digitally to increase operational efficiency and address maintenance works.
The types of work permits include;
- Work at height
- Hot work
- Cold work
- Arc Flash
- Critical load lifting
- And more
Now the renewable energy sector needs to deal with all the above and more types of work permits. And if the PTW system has loopholes or miscommunication, it can lead to delays and hazards.
Here is how the ePTW software takes care of the entire process.
The Life Cycle of a Permit To Work comprises of:
- Permit requirement arises (Identification)
- Request, raise, and issue work permits (add certificates & risk assessments)
- Authorize and Prepare the worksite
- Undertake and execute site preparation protocols
- Permit issued, work commences, and monitored
- Associated meetings – toolbox talks, shift re-validation, etc.
- Close permit and archive
Let us closely look at the above steps with the example of a wind farm ePTW process.
- Before any work can begin at the wind farm, the scope of work is clearly defined, including the location of the work, the duration of the work, and the equipment or materials needed. These details are filled in the digital system.
- The software performs a thorough hazard identification and risk assessment process to identify all potential hazards associated with the work. This includes hazards related to working at height, electrical hazards, environmental hazards, and others.
- Once the hazards have been identified and the risks assessed, the software generates a permit application. The permit application outlines the scope of work, the hazards identified, and the safety measures that will be implemented to mitigate those hazards.
- The software notifies and alerts everyone concerned by sending a permit application. The permit application is sent to all the related authorities and the concerned employees. Then it is reviewed and approved by the relevant parties, including the permit issuer and the wind farm operator.
- The software notifies once the permit has been approved and alerts the person or team responsible for the work.
- The work can begin once the permit has been issued. The permit holder is responsible for ensuring all safety measures are in place, and the work is carried out safely. The software regularly intimates the progress of the work to all concerned people and notifies them of any hurdles or delays.
Once the work is complete, the permit must be closed out. This includes a final check to ensure that all hazards have been mitigated, all equipment has been removed, and the work area has been left in a safe and clean condition. The software issues a checklist of all the above processes, and only once the index is green and the authorities have initiated a closure the work is termed as completed, and the permit is closed.
Therefore we can notice that by incorporating the ePTW process, the wind farm operator can ensure that all work is carried out safely and complies with relevant safety regulations and standards. To get a deeper understanding, please go through one of our CTF Nordex Acciona case studies.
And There’s More…
ASK EHS’s ePTW software allows a bird’s eye view of all the permitted work being carried out or commencing upcoming permits across all sites/plants/facilities along with the above incredible features.
You can determine potential work conflicts/overlaps and make appropriate and accurate decisions. In fact, when Permit to Work software is used along with the SIMOPS identifier tool, it can reduce back & forth communications and manual checks.
It also provides the following;
- Live indicator of work location during permit requests
- Color codes to differentiate permit types.
- Track various stages of permit.
- Permit information pop-ups
- Auto Refresh
- Visual Identification of nearby work activities
Implementing an effective ePTW system is a holistic approach that focuses on risk assessments, safety training, real-time monitoring, communication, collaboration, and advanced technologies and automation.
By prioritizing safety and investing in appropriate systems and processes, you can help protect your workers and the environment in the most efficient way possible!