Understanding Work Permits

Issuing Work Permits: What You Need to Know

A work permit is a written document that puts in place controlled measures to keep workers safe. It is a signed agreement between a company and its workers covering task location, work location, tools and equipment used and any hazard control measures.

A work permit system covers all the work permits used by an organisation to control workplace situations and hazard identification. Each site will have its own permit control system, designed around the tasks and activities being carried out.

To work under your own site permit system, you need to understand the regulatory requirements and the:

  • Types of permits
  • Frameworks relating to legislation and standards
  • Roles and responsibilities under the permit system
  • Equipment which can and cannot be used for each permit
  • Alternative ways of conducting a job

Who Needs a Work Permit?

Not all work involving risks needs a work permit. Before you issue a permit, you first need to identify the type of work and if a work permit is needed. First, consult with a permit issuer in the area, or check with the safety officer on site.

Next, take into account the processes, equipment and organisational procedures. All this information will allow you to decide if a work permit is needed and that the correct permit is issued.

Different Types of Work Permit

  • Confined spaces
  • Working at heights
  • Hot work (activities that could generate a spark or fire)
  • Excavations (digging pits or trenches)
  • Cold work/general permit to work
  • Vehicle entry permits (used when vehicle access is not standard)
  • Electrical permit
  • Increased hazard permit
  • Working alone (gives time for checking in)
  • Minor works or repair
  • Other special permits (eg; plumbing and gas repair)

Issuing Permits: Roles and Responsibilities

Each site will have their own roles and specified responsibilities regarding permits. These include:

Permit Authority/Issuer

The Permit Authority needs to understand the permit system, alongside the hazards and risks to be expected. Responsibilities include:

  • Identify the right permit/s for a task
  • Ensure conditions are documented on the permit
  • Ensure controls are in place before authorization
  • Confirm the permit holder agrees to the permit conditions
  • Undertake site inspections, work supervision, monitor work progress and ensure permits are current

Permit Recipient/Holder

This person is in direct control of the work task. Responsibilities include ensuring permits are processed and completed prior to the start of work.


The worker should review, understand and adhere to permit conditions. If site conditions change, they should report back and cease work if hazards cannot be controlled.

Final Steps in the Process for Issuing Permits

  • Carry out testing
  • Checking and implementing final control measures
  • Validating and authorizing the correct permit
  • Carry out regular inspections

Link Resources offers Permit to Work Training covering all the skills and knowledge needed to work in accordance with an issued permit. Contact the team on (07) 5491 2144 for more information.