SIMOPS stands for Simultaneous Operations, describing the situation when two or more potentially conflicting activities are taking place simultaneously in the same vicinity The increasing complexity of modern industrial sites makes it increasingly likely that SIMOPS will occur, and the impact of an unmanaged SIMOP could be catastrophic as the interaction between activities is likely to increase the complexity of operations and also lead to a higher risk level.

The role of a Permit to Work System in SIMOPS

Normally, all activities likely to result in SIMOPS will also be covered by a permit to work. The permit should as a matter of course contain detailed information about the location and type of activity to be performed as well as the time window within which it is likely to occur.

SIMOPS can be detected by looking at the location and time window relating to each permit. A traditional permit board uses cards containing information on each permit – although the information required to identify SIMOPS is technically available to a paper based system it is unlikely to be effective as it requires a proactive effort by those involved in permit issue to manually search for other permit which may cause SIMOPS issues

SIMOPS on multi-level sites

One particular scenario with added complexity is where activities may happen on different levels-for example in a multi-floor building or an offshore vessel with multiple decks. This introduces an additional dimension since many activities ( e.g. welding) can affect spaces all around them. The increased use of isolations and LOTO ( lock-out tag-out) also means that the likelihood of adjacent areas being affected is increased.

A competent Electronic Permit to work system will include a detailed layout of the work area with all permit activity indicated. New permits will be checked against existing permits and any potential SIMOPS will be flagged, allowing appropriate measures to be taken ( e.g. delaying a job until a conflict has cleared). The layout should be detailed enough to provide a good reference for staff, and permit information should be presented in a highly visible way. Layouts (sometimes called Plot Plans) can be produced using existing CAD drawings and easily updated.

5 Reasons not to use EXCEL for Action Tracking

1.It’s difficult to share access to actions

Excel was never designed to allow multiple logins to the same spreadsheet by different people – what’s far more likely is that you will end up with multiple copies of the data, all slightly different

2. It’s almost impossible to restrict access to specific groups of data

You will normally want to restrict access to who can see what actions – I’m not going to say that is impossible in Excel but it will require a lot of code and additional complexity – generally anyone who has access to the spreadsheet can see and change everything.

3. Organisation of Actions is extremely difficult

If you want to organise actions on a project basis – quite  a common scenario, you’ll need a way of creating the project within Excel and then allocating actions to is , then having some way of accessing those actions after entry. Don’t forget that if you are using reviewers as part of your action approval process it’s likely that these will change on a per project basis – this is definitely not out-of-the-box Excel functionality.

4. Approval workflow is almost impossible

When actions are completed you’ d expect to be able to invoke a workflow to allow one or more reviewers to sign it off – Excel just isn’t going to support this , you may be able to mark actions as complete but you’re not going to easily be able to send emails and reminders. You also need to ensure that reminders can be sent as the due date for closure approaches.

5. Attachments are tricky

The best action management systems allow actionees to attach additional information to support their work – Excel will allow this in a slightly clunky fashion but it’s very difficult to restrict access so that only those involved in the action can attach files.

Additional Near Miss event descriptors

HSE professionals are familiar with the meaning and use of the term ‘Near Miss’ but it’s interesting to consider whether further descriptors are required.

in a 2013 article Chuck Pettinger suggests that near-miss events should be further categorised as they appear along a continuum.

Near Hit

A near hit is an incident where an injury or fatality is narrowly avoided
e.g. A worker steps out of the way of a falling drum which has been dislodged from a rack by a forklift truck.
Near hits should be immediately reported and a full investigation to undertaken with implementation of appropriate safety measures to prevent re-occurrence

Near Miss

A near miss is a safety incident that did not result in injury, illness, or death but had potential to do so. A drum falling from a warehouse shelf and nearly hitting a worker below would be classified as a near hit. In a near miss, the drum falls to the ground just the same, but no-one is close to the drum when it falls.
Like Near Hits, Near misses should be addressed quickly.

Good Catch

A good catch describes a situation where someone notices a situation with the potential to cause harm.

For example:
A manager notices that a load has not been appropriately secured before a lifting operation.
No-one was injured or even close to being injured in this example but the potential for harm is present. Good catches are also referred to as hazards or safety concerns, They can be forewarnings of future incidents.

Error Likely

The lowest severity safety incident, an error likely instance would happen before any type of incident occurs or sometimes before work has even commenced. For example a manager might notice that subcontractors are scheduled to perform a short job on site involving working at height. Because the job is short, there may be a likelihood that appropriate stabilisation using toe boards may not be performed. The HSE manager may then decide to attend the on-site toolbox talk or job brief to ensure compliance.

Effectively tracking all these events will identify shortcomings in processes and allow future incidents to be prevented.

Permit to work and Risk Assessments

Permits to work and risk assessments should be closely linked. Typically a permit will contain a reference to a risk assessment for the planned activity. The details may vary between risk assessments but typically they should include the following:

Identification of significant risks
It should enable the client/contractor to identify and prioritize control measures
It should be appropriate to the nature of the work and proportionate to the risks
It should be Valid for a reasonable time
It should be completed by a competent person

One issue that often arises is where risk assessments are performed using a separate system – e.g. a paper based system running alongside an electronic permit system. In this scenario, there is a high potential for risk assessments to become separated from the permit – so that personnel signing off on the permit stages have no clear visibility of the risk assessment, leading to potential failure of the system.

It is also possible for risk assessments to drive the permit to work process, so where a control is identified during a risk assessment an appropriate permit can be created to perform the required works. Again these separate tasks can lead to a disconnect between critical elements.

Ideally electronic systems should be used for both permits to work and risk assessments, with appropriate connection between the systems to allow visibility of critical information at each stage of the permit or risk assessment. Appropriate protection should be included in each system to restrict access to sensitive information. Clear and strong controls should also be enforced to ensure that permits cannot be completed without the appropriate risk assessments in place.

The inclusion of a secure and up-to date permit board is recommended to show the current status of all live permits. For more complex sites a location map showing all active permits may provide a more useful display as it will also ideally identify potential SIMOPS where two or more conflicting activities are being executed in the same location at the same time.

TechnipFMC adopt Pisys Permit to work system worldwide

Pisys are extremely proud to be supporting TechnipFMC in its use of the electronic permit to work system across multiple offshore and onshore projects worldwide.

TechnipFMC is a leading technology provider to the traditional and new energies industry; delivering fully integrated projects, products, and services. The company has more than 20,000 staff in 41 countries and a fleet of 18 vessels.

Don Davies, OneFleet HSE Manager at TechnipFMC, said:

TechnipFMC engaged Pisys in 2019 to provide their cloud-based Electronic Permit to Work System (PTW)  across our worldwide vessel fleet and two onshore sites. The accurate and timely creation and management of permits is critical to the smooth operation of projects we're involved in worldwide.

 “Pisys’s team understands the unique challenges faced by offshore personnel in some of the most hostile environments on the planet. We have found the system to be extremely capable, easy to use and highly flexible, requiring minimal end-user training. The system is available 24/7 across all vessels, via our secure internal networks.

 “The ability to synchronise Pisys’s locally hosted installations with the onshore system is very useful, and it was easy to activate dual English/Portuguese operations for our Brazil-based vessels.

We have embedded the PTW system in our procedures, helping us enhance value to our clients through quick and effective creation and management of permits.”

ATMS Release v6.5.0.3

What’s new in ATMS v6.5.0.3

The following is a list of enhancements that were implemented in Pisys ATMS release

  • ATMS-463 – Move Attachment storage to AWS S3. We have moved our attachment storage to Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) which is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance. 
  • ATMS-464 & ATMS-467 – Project Action Report Changes.
    • We have added a Include Audit Notes checkbox in our Project Action Report to allow generation with and without audit notes. This will make the report smaller in most cases.
    • We have also added a Status Filter to help reduce the size of the Project Actions Report. 
  • ATMS-465 – Hide Report Filters which are not applicable to a report. We have hidden report filters that were not applicable when a report was being selected. Now when a report is selected only the available filters for that report will be available for selection. 
  • ATMS-466 – Change Pisys Crypto Pbkdf2 Iterations and hashing algorithm. We have changed our current password iterations and hashing algorithm to be 310000 and SHA256 respectively. This is based on OWASP Password Storage recommendation. This change has made our password storage FIPS140 compliant.

The following is a list of bug fixes that were implemented in Pisys ATMS release

  • ATMS-471 – Copy of Action and New Attachments. When an action was being copied all attachments were copied as well but no new attachments could be uploaded at the same time.
  • ATMS-468 – User Import Template. We have changed our user import template to highlight all required fields with a yellow background. 

The following is a list of security fixes that were implemented in Pisys ATMS release

  • ATMS-39 – Security changes when importing Users and Actions. 
  • ATMS-438 – Security vulnerabilities. Various security vulnerabilities were addressed with this release.

If you have any comments or queries about this release, please get in touch with  – we rely on your feedback to help us continually improve.

Our ATMS User Manual and ATMS Quick User Guide are always available to provide extra support.


PTW Release

What’s new in PTW v1.5.0.0

The following is a full list of features that were implemented in Pisys PTW

Table Data
If there is unsaved data in a table for a permit, a warning that data will be lost when leaving the page be put in place.

Line breaks in multi-line text boxes in PTW.
When a user inputs multiple lines inside a multi-line text box control (e.g., description, equipment, user created ones etc.) the PDF print out shows the line separation, but the online view of the permit does not. We have updated PTW view permit screen to match the PDF print out when displaying read-only text.

Ability to Print in either Portrait or Landscape format.
We have updated PTW to allow printing of Permits and Isolations to either Portrait or Landscape via a new checkbox in the Admin -> Permit/Isolation Version Settings. Like the existing “Archived” checkbox, this setting can be toggled on or off even after the Version is in use.

Panel Name Change
When a panel change name, the new name was not showing at every screen that referenced it. We have updated PTW so that the following screens now display the latest Permit Version Panel-Type Description:
• Permit List -> Type (dropdown)
• Layouts -> Plot Plan -> Legend
• Management Overview -> Issued Permits by Month (Graph Legend)
• Admin -> Settings & Access Rights -> Permit Rights
• Admin -> Inspection Types -> Panel Type
The original configuration item under “Admin -> Settings & Access Rights” for “Plot Plans -> Display latest Permit-Version Description in Legend” has now been moved just above to the “Workflow” subsection and renamed as “Display Panel-Type Description from latest Permit-Version”.


The following is a list of enhancements that were implemented in PTW list includes bug fixes and new functionality.

  1. PTW-1223 – June Permits and Inspections do not appear in the new Monthly Permits/Inspections Report
  2. PTW-1220 – Non mandatory Risk Assessments set as mandatory when creating a permit.
  3. PTW-1221 – 400 Bad Request when an RA does not exist in TRMS for the selected site.
  4. PTW-1217 – Permit Allowance Emails
  5. PTW-1218 – Close screen Handback & Create Follow Up button.
  6. PTW-1215 – User cannot Reissue permit with error message: You are unable to sign this type of permit
  7. PTW-1216 – Double message appears when the Area manager needs to close a permit.
  8. PTW-1139 – Blank Permit Question Set copies over all the checkboxes from the main screen.
  9. PTW-1214 – Login screen server error when AzureAD is used in PTW.

Permit to work in multi-vessel offshore wind installation

The increased activity around offshore wind has led to a rise in demand for permit to work management which is capable of covering multiple sites - including offshore vessels, with multiple - sometimes thousands of staff working across many tasks. A key requirement which we are seeing is the ability to have an overview of all permit activity - something which is very difficult to achieve when permits are being raised on individual vessels. The traditional use of printed permits does not lend itself to rapid sharing of information, and in a rapidly changing environment it is essential that the correct approvals can be communicated to the worksite as quickly as possible.

Internet Connectivity is an issue

A cloud-based permit to work system can address these issues, however it is important to remember that access to cloud based systems relies on a reliable internet connection. Coverage is not 100% and drop-outs will generally result in loss of data. Bandwidth can also be lower than typically available onshore, with an increasing number of systems competing for a relatively low and expensive VSAT bandwidth.
One option which we've seen our customers adopting is to situate local low-cost servers on each vessel. These servers are used to provide a local instance of the permit to work system, running on a web server, so users see exactly the same interface as they would online - the only difference is that the 'internet' is being supplied locally. Permits can be created and managed as required and this approach has the advantage of lack of exposure to internet outages. Synchronisation with an onshore system can also be easily achieved when bandwidth is available.
There are downsides of course - you have a server and local network to manage, but it's likely that the permit to work system can co-exist with other essential systems which require local IT infrastructure. The benefits of having high speed access to permits would appear to trump the possible overhead involved.

Carbon Insulation manufacturer adopts Near-Miss manager

Carbon Insulation provider adopts near-miss manager

Our Scottish Customer is the sole producer of carbon insulation with it's parent Group and is a R&D Centre of Excellence.
The HSE manager described the safety issues he faces on a daily basis 'The site is a busy one with  a lot of  people and materials moving around. Our production facility combines several potentially hazardous processes to create carbon insulation and we rely very heavily on the skill and experience of our staff to keep everyone safe. A key element of our safety management is the identification of what we call near misses - conditions which have the potential to cause or contribute to an incident if left unattended. This could be as simple as an obscured hazard warning sign but we could also be facing equipment failure leading to a potential chemical escape or a major electrical hazard causing a fire or explosion  '
'Our senior management team had previously identified an opportunity to improve our existing near miss reporting system which although effective, relied on a paper based process, with staff having to manually complete a form which then had to be delivered to the HSE team for attention. This had the potential of creating delays in  any preventive action.'
We also have a high number of contractors who perform critical work for us, and we found that they were less likely to report a near miss in a  timely manner simply because they were unfamiliar with the forms we used. Ideally we don't want any barriers to get in the way of any of our staff or contractors reporting a hazardous situation.
We currently use the Pisys permit to work system  for all our control of work tasks and it is such an easy to use and robust system that we contacted Pisys in Aberdeen to see if they could help us . Fortunately they were able to very quickly supply us with their near-miss management tool which is part of their 'Pisys 360' HSE suite . It operates in more or less the same way as the permit system so staff were happy to start using it immediately. It runs on tablets and staff or contractors can log any near miss they encounter across the business. We have a number of locations ranging from our production facilities to office and car parks  and we are able to use the system anywhere.
As soon as an entry is made, myself or an HSE colleague are alerted and we can take appropriate action.  Since we started using the system last year we have seen a huge improvement in the reporting of near misses and our staff are more engaged in the process since they can be easily notified as any mitigation takes place.'

Multiple uses for Action Tracking in business

Over the years we have seen a huge variety of applications for our action tracker - Although it originated in the world of HAZOPS which are typically very high governance with multiple review stages our clients quickly realised that just about anything they wanted to track could be accommodated. We've described a few scenarios here: ( Note - none of them involve a Filofax or sticky notes !)

Lessons Learned

Historically lessons-learned systems have been repositories where best practice from projects could be recorded, however unfortunately it is quite rare to achieve the expected value from the knowledge stored in such systems, mainly because they quickly become static 'silos' with no real incentive for people to either consult or update the data once it has been created. Typically the systems which succeed are those where knowledge is proactively shared - this means that stakeholders are personally informed about learnings which could benefit them - this makes it more likely that they will pause their busy schedule to engage with the information.

No matter what type of incident is being managed the priorities for an incident management system are the same - provide a way of recording all relevant data, and allocating important actions . because incidents can be very fast moving in the early stages it is vital that systems don't get in the way while also allowing complete flexibility to capture all relevant data - for example photos, witness statements etc. It's also very useful to be able to record root cause/contributing factors as the incident progresses. Crucially any actions generated as a result of an incident - e.g. a corrective action need to be managed in a controlled way to ensure that all stakeholders are kept informed and nothing slips through the net. When we achieved our ISO27001 accreditation we found that ATMS provided a great way to manage any Info sec incidents - logs and other data could be easily attached and the configurable workflow and transparent communication around action closure helped us to sail through the last 6 years' audits

Although practically every business has a slightly different way of recording and categorising risk there is generally a risk description, pre and post mitigation matrices and a set of actions to mitigate the risk. Our customers should be able to to configure their data capture, matrices and workflows to exactly match their internal risk management process and the associated actions should be easy to manage with a high degree of governance and accountability

The actual data captured will be different but the principles are the same - it's important that the data captured exactly matches the specific requirements of the audit, and that any resulting actions are easy to manage with an appropriate level of governance - some audits may not require anyone but the actionee/responsible person to close them while others may require one or more' review stages' or 'Gates' which must be approved before close-out.

Controlling access and tracking changes

Many of the systems described here can be ( to a point) replicated in tools like Excel, however there are two areas where Excel is not very effective: Managing access and tracking changes. Controlling the people who can edit/view a spreadsheet is possible with considerable effort and if you have a management system like Sharepoint it is possible to see previous versions of a spreadsheet, but it's not going to be a granular, field by field record of what was changed. Ideally a management system should allow access to be controlled at company/department/team and individual level so that project teams can be formed across companies. Auditability on a field by field basis should be built in so that an audit trail of all changes to every field can be viewed at any time.