Trading off between Safety & Operations? How Digital Permits can help

February 11, 2022

How Digital Permits help in Safety & Operations | The SignOnSite Blog

With digital permits, companies no longer need to choose between doing the safety & compliance checks with what's practical to do in the field. They can have a simple, easy-to-use tool to manage permits from request to approval.


In How Paper Permits are Costing You, SignOnSite researched the challenges companies face when using paper permit systems. 

The main finding: paper systems are inefficient because there are many obstacles throughout the process, resulting in them not being used correctly.

When permits aren't used correctly, they no longer act as a control to reduce the risk of safety incidents occurring. Defeating the purpose of permitting entirely.

But as an industry, we are now reaching a level of digital maturity where we ask ourselves: "How can we run a better company with technology?".

So if we turn our sites (pun intended) to the gains that digital permits offer, companies will find opportunities around every corner.


Digital permits encourage safer behaviours.

Digital permits go back to their original purpose (A safety control when people complete high-risk work).

It does this by encouraging workers to complete a series of safety checks set out by your company.

For example, suppose your company wants to ensure that all combustible materials are relocated before hot-works commences.

In this case, a digital permit system would require a worker to relocate the combustible materials before requesting a permit and provide photo evidence that the safety check has been completed.

From a site supervisor's perspective, they can easily decide whether a permit should be approved, having access to all the required compliance information within the permit request.

So instead of relying on a scrunched-up piece of paper, illegible handwriting, or someone's word, companies can now have concrete evidence and the confidence that they are issuing a permit in safe working conditions.

Digital permits help you stay compliant.

Suppose your company is being audited, and you are required to provide historical documentation of issued permits.

Traditionally, companies would need to retrieve thousands of paper records, only to discover that the checks and balances were not always compliant.

SignOnSite research has found that only 10% of paper permits meet compliance standards. So when companies are being audited, they are unknowingly ending up in situations where they have issued permits for unsafe work.

But digital permits solves this tricky problem.

Digital permits offer a formal document management system. So every permit ever requested, approved, or rejected leaves an audit trail. In addition, permits are stored in real-time and can be retrieved whenever required.

Companies can now have comprehensive documentation on the entire permits process from request to approval.

Digital permits improve operations.

On average paper permits take 30 minutes to be approved.

There is a tremendous amount of time wasted by the time it takes a worker to go to the site office, request the permit, ensure all safety checks are completed and get the permit approved. (And that's if the worker even decides to make the request).

Digital permits are designed to accelerate this process. It does this by making permits accessible wherever the internet is.

Workers no longer need to leave their work location to request a permit and should be able to do this from any device they choose.

Imagine your company is issuing 400 permits a week (Which is standard for a Tier 1 & 2 builder) you could be losing up to 12,000 hours of productive time on your sites. With digital permits, you could reduce this by 83%. That's because digital permits can ease the process to just 5 minutes.

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