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Manage risks associated with maintenance and other day-to-day tasks with a Control of Work system 

A Control of Work is a system or systems that identifies the necessary steps and conditions in order to minimize risk and ensure work is conducted in a safe manner without accident or injury to people, damage to equipment or to the environment.

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3. May 2021

In safety critical industries, Control of Work (COW) is the management process that is employed to identify the risks associated with maintenance and other tasks carried out on a day to day basis. Control of Work systems form an essential part of the Safe Systems of Work.

COW systems come in many different forms

COW systems can be implemented as a manual paper-based systems which rely on human behaviors for accuracy, or as digital systems that support compliance with the COW expectations through in-built safety rules.

Control of Work systems applied to large sites, sometimes with multiple facilities and hundreds of personnel, can become increasingly complicated.  

As technology has advanced, many worksites are choosing to move away from paper-based systems with the risk of costly human errors, towards fully integrated digital systems which are capable of holding all work control procedures together, from risk assessments to permit to work, energy isolations, confined space entry, and lifting operations. 

Electronic systems are also able to deliver real-time reports on work procedures, creating a safer operating environment and more efficient COW process.

Controls and precautions to mitigate risks

The extent of the controls required will depend on the level of risk associated with the hazard. 

A COW system is not simply permission to carry out a dangerous job. It is an essential part of a system which determines how that job can be carried out safely and helps maintain this safe condition as the task is executed.

COW management systems employ a set of basic building blocks for Control of Work:

  • Plan: Activities are planned and scheduled
  • Risk Assessment: The potential impact of the activities is assessed and reviewed with controls and mitigations identified to minimize the risks of an adverse event
  • Prepare: Permits and documents are developed to control the activity
  • Authorize: The work is authorized be personnel with the appropriate delegation
  • Execute: The work is executed by the authorized personnel
  • Monitor: The work activity is monitored by the identified personnel.
  • Complete: When the work is completed the documentation is closed out and the work site is returned to the normal condition
  • Learning Lessons: A formal continuous improvement process is applied to each activity.

WorkSafe®, an Integrated Safe System of Work product

RelyOn Nutec has developed the WorkSafe Control of Work software solution and has deployed this system across a global client base that embraces different industry sectors.

The software is developed with the end user in mind and is a robust but simple application of industry and regulatory driven COW requirements.

Modular in structure, the software application can be expanded to include ISOSafe as a means to design and control the isolation of electrical, mechanical and piping equipment ahead of work activities. 

Failures during the isolation and reinstatement of process plants are one of the main causes of loss-of-containment incidents and may lead to major accidents.

High standards of isolation and rigorous management control are required for plant isolation and reinstatement, particularly in major hazard industries and ISOSafe supports the consistent application and monitoring of isolations to the required standard.

The right training is paramount

RelyOn Nutec is able to supply both e-learning and classroom based training to industry and bespoke operator policies and standards to support the application of a robust COW system and enhance the COW culture within an organization. 

Additionally, the team of RelyOn Nutec Control of Work Consultants can support the development of clear and concise documentation and process to align with regulatory requirements and individual operator requirements.

Contact us today if you want to know more

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