Permit to work Systems in a Hazardous Area Environment

Q: So, in Permit to work systems, what is the single most important task?

A: Making sure people come home safe…

Performing electrical engineering in an industry where hazardous locations, flammable gases, dust and vapour is the norm requires a huge commitment to safety. One of the most important elements that ensure workers come home safe is Permit to Work (PTW) systems. We spoke to some of EnerMech’s top specialists in the area to find out what Permit to Work systems are all about, what challenges the industry faces, and what you should expect from your PTW team.

What are Permit to Work systems?

Permit to Work systems are a formalised process to control work and access in areas identified as hazardous working environments. In the Oil and Gas industry, it is an essential system to ensure projects are completed on time and without incident.

The right people…

According to Paul Lyons, a veteran in the space who has worked on projects such as the BHPB China Coal Seam Gas and Origin Mortlake 600 MW Power Station, there are some important challenges faced by the industry as investment increases in Oil and Gas infrastructure. The most important of these is “the in rush of inexperienced people working within the Permitting environment. (Who possess) limited technical and professional background to support such an important role.” He adds that “you need experience AND qualifications to completely understand the Permitting process” especially important when your job is to “ensure all personnel involved in permitting works go home the same way that they came to work.”

Darren Smith, who has been Permitting for over 6 years agrees, adding that “Good interpersonal skills, problem solving, high level of understanding and comprehension across multiple disciplines” are the most important attributes in job where every day offers a new challenge.

What does a Permit to Work Coordinator do on a daily basis?

According to our experts, the work day is quite varied and you need to be prepared for anything. In terms of time spent, the main priority is the safety of the workers you’re responsible for – as Paul remarks resolutely “Safety defines time in the Permitting role”. Generally they spend around a third of their days inspecting works pertaining to permits and another third issuing permits. The reason communications skills are so important is the time spent training and mentoring workers in best practice (about a fifth) while the rest of the day is spent performing administration like reports, reviews, ordering equipment and problem solving.

Find out more…

If you’re interested in finding out more about High Voltage Operations experts for your project you can check out theEnerMech website - or get in touch at (02) 9387 4220.

First of all, what are the qualifications and skills you need to get into this exciting growth industry?

A relevant electrical trade qualification or engineering degree

A High Voltage Isolation and Access qualification, or equivalent

Work safely in construction industry (White Card) or equivalent

A visible commitment to excellence and leadership in all aspects of Health & Safety

What does it take to work in the High Voltage Testing industry?

We spoke with EnerMech (http://www.epsgroupaustralia.c...) employees Raul (Electrical HV Commissioning Engineer - QCLNG Upstream Project) and William (High Voltage Operator - FMG Solomon Project, WA) to get a first-hand insight.

What is your no.1 priority on a daily basis?

William – “Safety of personnel. People are a company’s greatest asset. At Solomon we achieve this by using highly trained staff, top quality safety equipment, job hazard analysis worksheets, Permits to Work, Take Five’s and a site wide commitment to safety and the zero harm policy.”

Raul – “Ensure I create accurate and detailed information for our Technician on the field to minimise loss of productivity and eliminate risks (Safety).”

What are the skills and attributes that are most important for your job?

William – “A commitment to safety, the right qualifications accompanied by relevant experience, to be a team player with good communication skills, problem solving and the ability to follow procedures.”

Raul – “You need good experience on electrical high voltage and low voltage and be able to identify problems and create solutions. The most important (attributes which help) my activities are creativity and good skills (in) programing and creating tools to facilitate my own work and cut time. Electrical and Instrumentation is in constant evolution and requires constant search and studies.”

Of all the High Voltage projects you’ve worked on, is there one which you’re particularly proud of?

William – “Solomon Project. I started here in 2012 during construction phase of the 3 x 132kV sub-stations. I was involved in the initial energisation of the sub-stations and overhead power lines throughout the project. I was then involved in completions of 2 x 2250 Ton, Modular Chilled Water Plants that cool 2 x GE LM6000 40Mw generator turbines in Solomon power station. To be still here involved in the HV operations has given me great job satisfaction and experience. The speed of production ramp up at Solomon is a benchmark for industry standards and I’m proud I got the chance to contribute to the project.”

Raul – “There are several projects, electrical and instrumentation; but one that it out of this field was the design of a sharp container that today is utilized in most hospitals in Australia, NZ, part of Europe and USA (Yellow Sharp Bin Container).”

A big thank you to William and Raul for their insights. So if you have a commitment to safety, excellent problem solving skills, you can follow procedures and an interest in electrical engineering, a career in high voltage operations may be for you. If you’d like to look into, or apply for a job in this field you can check out - http://www.epsgroupaustralia.c....

About the Author

EnerMech is fast becoming a leader in multi-disciplined verification, testing, commissioning and completions services on Oil & Gas, Mining and Metals, Utility and Infrastructure projects. Our comprehensive suite of services encompasses involvement in projects from design, specification, construction, high voltage testing and commissioning, substation testing and commissioning, Permit to Work as well as energisation to operations and maintenance.

To find out more visit - http://www.epsgroupaustralia.c...

Permit to work lock out station