Six months of rapid health and safety improvements at sub-stations in Ireland
Whilst performing the role of health and safety advisor for 63 sub-station in Ireland, our Coyle Group consultant proactively drove significant improvements in making the client workplace a safer place to work.
Five critical issues
The Coyle Group consultant identified many opportunities to improve the safety of sub-station work on this assignment. Safety on sub-stations is particularly important due to the high voltage electricity that workers can be potentially exposed to in the case of error or accident, which can lead to fatalities. We observed five key areas which presented critical risk to the client and their staff. Our consultant alerted the client management to these issues and agreed and played a key role in implementing the appropriate action.
01. CLIENT AGREEMENT
Coyle Group identified that there was no client agreement in place between the client’s customer and the client.
It is a client’s duty to ensure the client is defined and agreed in writing. Without this, there is a lack of clarity over legal responsibilities, especially in the case of an accident occurring.
Coyle Group acted swiftly to draft a client letter and get it signed off, resolving this issue altogether.
02. DESIGN RISK ASSESSMENT
Coyle Group identified that construction designers were not fully complying with client procedures or the construction regulations design risk assessment requirements.
Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Regulations 2013 state that designers shall take account of the General Principles of Prevention. All designers must take into account existing hazards on the projects.
On identifying this gap, our consultant worked with the Asset Management team to develop a Design Standard Hazard Register suitable for the client sites. This enabled designers to eliminate or reduce risk throughout the design lifecycle. Once embedded in the design process, designers were conducting appropriate site-specific risk assessments.
03. EMERGENCY PLAN
Our consultant also identified that network technicians were operating mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) without an emergency plan in place. This was potentially breaching the Work at Height Regulations, which specifies that an employer must put in place a system that includes emergency instructions and procedures. After identifying this issue, our consultant worked with client team to develop a revised national MEWP procedure (including an emergency plan), a risk assessment and put in place a plan for training network technicians on the procedure. When approved, the training will be rolled out nationally by the client training team.
04. EASY ACCESS TO PROCEDURES
On observing and engaging with the client network technicians, our consultant received feedback that the existing client procedures when doing maintenance work on the sub-stations. However, to comply with legislation (Safety, Health and Welfare at Work, 2005), procedures must be used due to the high-risk nature of the work that the technicians are conducting.
To resolve this issue, our consultant developed a new sub-station maintenance risk assessment method statement (RAMS) template with relevant procedures easily accessible in an appendix. This template enabled the procedures to be easy to find, always at hand and making it simpler for the network technicians to use.
05. LIFT PLAN
When reviewing the client’s Lift Plan, which should provide guidance on good practice lifting procedure, our consultant identified important areas for improvement. Coyle Group recommended that additional information be included in the plan and that it should be signed off by an appointed person (AP). This action would prevent a potential breach of compliance with General Application Regulation 42, which states that an employer should ensure that all lifting operations are properly planned
To mitigate this issue, our consultant drafted a new, more detailed national Lift Plan, and provided this to the client for approval by the AP.
Working with the Client team, our consultant delivered solutions to mitigate the critical risks identified:
- A client’s letter was developed to clarify client responsibilities
- A design standard hazard register was developed
- MEWP national procedure and risk assessment developed
- Plans to roll out a national training plan to network technicians once procedure and risk assessment approved
- Substation maintenance RAMS template developed with risk assessment and easy access procedures
- A new detailed national Lift Plan was developed
By July 2021, multiple critical Health and Safety risks at the clients workplace have been mitigated and even, in some cases, eliminated. Not only did these ensure the safety and compliance of the clients work in this location but some of the improvements had a nationwide impact, putting good practice in place across the whole organisation.
The client management can have confidence that they now have the plans and procedures in place to keep staff safe and be compliant with legislation on sub-stations in Ireland.