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Double success for Lanes

02 July 2015

Lanes Utilities has won the Thames Water Health and Safety Innovation of the Year award for the second year in a row.

Judges were impressed by a submission detailing the benefits of a new digital point of works risk assessment tool designed to support a real step change in health and safety culture.

Lanes Utilities, part of the national drainage and maintenance provider Lanes Group, has developed the ground-breaking e-PoWRA to support its work as sole wastewater network repair and maintenance provider for Thames Water.

Conrad Ashby, Lanes Utilities Managing Director, said: "Our efforts mirror Thames Water's desire to constantly improve customer service and utility business efficiencies. Excellence in health and safety is a vital component of this successful strategy.

"The success of our e-PoWRA is down to the collaborative and determined approach of all our staff to continuously improving health and safety.

"It has been enthusiastically adopted by our field teams, who have had a key role in its development and have continued to suggest ways to improve it still further.

"The success of this innovation comes in part because its clear and simple functionality makes our work in the field easier and faster, as well as safer. The identification, and mitigation, of risks in the field are captured through images and simple drop down menus for ease of use.

"We are thrilled to have won this important health and safety innovation award for two years in a row. It demonstrates that we are always pushing back the boundaries of what is both possible and necessary in service improvement."

The annual Health and Safety Excellence Awards for Thames Water teams and contractors are designed to encourage and celebrate best practice in health and safety across the company's services.

In 2014, Lanes Utilities won the Innovation of the Year Award for its Essential Standards workplace guide and training tool. It uses cartoon-style images and instruction icons, backed by process maps, to show best practice in all aspects of business delivery, including health and safety.

The e-PoWRA is part of Lanes Utilities' industry-leading operational smart phone apps. The digital, cloud-based e-PoWRA replaces more than 300,000 paper-based risk assessments, dramatically increasing operational sustainability.

It is quick and intuitive to use, banishes the tick-box mentality of paper risk assessment systems, and challenges operatives to think clearly about the health and safety consequences of their actions, for them and their colleagues.

The e-PoWRA includes a step-by-step process for high risk activities such as confined space entry, with stop instructions and automatic line manager alerts when it detects variations from safe systems of work.

At every job, a Shout About Safety function invites operatives to suggest how health and safety could be changed for the better, a function that has led to many improvements across the business.

Analysis shows 100 per cent compliance with e-PoWRA process. Further planned developments include full vehicle management and service strike mitigation functions.

The system allows real-time monitoring of operational health and safety performance, and intervention where necessary. It also supports the gathering of big data sets for thematic trend analysis.

Lanes Utilities was also shortlisted in three other categories in the Thames Water Health and Safety Excellence Awards - Best Practice in Health and Safety Achievement, Health and Wellbeing Initiative of the Year, and Young Person of the Year, for which Hannah Clark, Business Systems Administrator, was nominated.

Development of the e-PoWRA has also resulted in Lanes Utilities being named as a finalist in the Construction News Health and Safety Initiative of the Year Award 2015.