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Electricity industry launches safety initiative

23 January 2013

Plans have been launched to make the UK electricity industry a world leader in health and safety.

Plans have been launched to make the UK electricity industry a world leader in health and safety.

The drive comes from industry bodies Energy Networks Association and the Association of Electricity Producers, working closely with industry trade unions and HSE.

They say their ambition is for the industry to lead health and safety performance in the world by 2015.

Peter McCormick, ENA Board lead on safety, health & environment said, “Workers in the electricity industry face many significant risks which need to be managed. Key to this risk management is strong leadership, where senior staff members take ownership of risks and accept the responsibility of managing them.

A joint initiative between employers (ENA and AEP) and trade unions, the five-year strategy aims to deliver continuous improvements in proportionate risk management in the electricity generation, transmission and distribution sectors.

Mike Clancy deputy general secretary of the Prospect union said on behalf of the Industry's trade unions “Improving health and safety leadership throughout the UK electricity industry is a key objective of this sector's new strategy, called Powering Improvement. The trade unions welcome this initiative and have signed on to the challenge of delivering it.”

The strategy was developed over a number of ENA-led workshops, where they worked with Prospect, Unison, Unite and GMB trade unions and HSE. The TUC have offered the initiative their full support.”

Peter McCormick went on to say: “Through their work on this strategy, ENA and AEP are leading by example, exhibiting the sort of leadership skills they want to establish across the industry.

“To maintain momentum throughout the five years, each year will see the strategy focus on a different priority area. This year's focus, leadership, is a two-fold priority. The first step is for senior managers in ENA/AEP companies to demonstrate their commitment by signing up to Powering Improvement. The second step is to build on this by improving health and safety leadership throughout the management chain so that good practice cascades to all levels of workers.

“Supporting the annual priorities are three overarching themes - improving competence, worker involvement and leadership - inspired by the 2009 HSE strategy 'Be part of the solution'. Through action on these themes, the industry intends to achieve a change in health and safety culture.

“Powering Improvement is building on the electricity industry's 10 year SAFELEC initiative, which delivered a significant improvement in safety figures for the industry. In 2002, for example, the incident rate of fatal and
major injury accidents was 95 per 100 000 employees; by 2009 this figure had fallen to 77.

“By working towards the goals in 'Be part of the solution' to generate improved performance, it is hoped the new strategy will bring similar positive results. In 2011 and 2012 the focus will be occupational health / well-being and asset management/maintenance, respectively.

“Our ambition for the UK electricity industry to be a world leader in health and safety performance by 2015 is realistic but challenging. We're under no illusions, but we have a good base to work from and full support from HSE and our trade unions.”