Why is a computer based permit system better than paper?

IntelliPERMIT is not a computer based replica of a paper-based permit system, nor is it a bolt on to a maintenance system. Intelligent safety rules, enforced system controls, auditability, visibility etc. are all enhanced over paper-based systems and represent a step change in safety integrity and reliability.

A traditional permit to work system is managed by filling out paper forms in a permit book. While this can work in many situations there are numerous opportunities to improve the permit process by rethinking the paper system altogether and making use of modern computer systems to ultimately improve safety.

A paper system has the benefits of being simple, standardized and relatively easy to understand. However with familiarity comes a very real downside that people start taking short cuts, fill out forms by rote and don’t pay sufficient attention to the specific hazards of the job. Paper permits most often end up being filed away and there is no way the company can benefit from the insights possible when work is controlled by an electronic system.

A downside to paper based permit systems

Some of the challenges with paper-based systems include:

  • Lost paper work
  • Preprinted forms are inflexible in layout and this can mean massive duplication of information across multiple pieces of paper
  • Illegible script
  • The cost of re-printing permit books when rules or procedures change
  • Finding a place to securely index and store completed permit books as part of the permanent plant record
  • It is difficult and time consuming to audit permits to look for systematic problems with safety
  • There is no quick and easy visibility of work in progress without physical access to each permit book
  • There is no easy mechanism to check for permits that are not signed off,  particularly as contractors and empoyees leave site after their shift
  • There is no easy way to prevent filling in the permit by a implicated party after an incident (to cover up tracks). This is particularly serious where someone is hurt or injured and the permit becomes a vital piece of evidence demonstrating whether or not the safety procedures were properly followed
  • It is difficult to cross reference permits or isolations where different job scopes impact on each other

All of these challenges are substantially reduced or eliminated by implementing a computer based system.

A computer based system will enable a number of additional checks to be incorporated in the permit process, while at the same time improving productivity of teams and ultimately in improving safety.


A computerised permit to work system overcomes many of the difficulties of a paper-based system. But beyond that,  it opens a whole new set of possibilities for supporting safe work practices in a plant environment.  Technology is becoming more and more pervasive in industry,  and the future holds many exciting possibilities for technology assisted processes.   But you have to start somewhere, and getting a platform like IntelliPERMIT in place will open up numerous new possibilities to enhance safety.

If you would like to learn more about computerised permit to work systems and IntelliPERMIT please contact our experienced team at Adapt IT who will be more than happy to assist you.

Article by Scott Bredin


Long term, independent studies in heavy industrial environments have shown that up to 75% of the deviations / breaches associated with the permit to work process are eliminated through introduction of a secure electronic permit to work solution.
IntelliPERMIT is not simply a replication of a paper-based workflow.  We have engineered the system to work in a way that leverages the strength of modern computer technologies to coach and guide users in predicting hazards and controlling safety as they work.

Picture of Scott Bredin
Scott Bredin
Scott has 25 years of experience in operational risk and control of work systems: developing, implementing and envisioning the future of these systems. Scott is passionate about using technology to keep people safe in complex and hazardous operational environments. 

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