UK Power Networks Service

Safety should always come first

1 May 2018

Philip Heathcote, Bid Director, UK Power Networks Services

Safety is the most important element of any project, however, it can only be achieved through unrelenting focus, extensive programmes and training for colleagues and clients and a culture where safety always comes first.

Safety is at the core of UK Power Networks Services. We design, build, finance and maintain electrical infrastructure, which presents inherent risks to the safety of our people, our clients and the public who use the services we power.

Not only do we manage the risks associated with working with electricity, but we also deliver for our clients in the most complex and challenging environments every day. We have achieved an exceptional safety record whilst working on Europe’s busiest runways, trackside on the UK’s fastest mainline railway, at nuclear sites and at military facilities.

UK Power Networks Services show leadership in health and safety. The achievement of over 2.5 million working hours across the business, and more than seven years providing the traction power to High Speed 1 without a single lost time injury proves our commitment and relentless focus to safety.

Our exceptional safety record on High Speed 1 and across the rest of the business isn’t down to luck – it is a result of robust electrical safety rules and procedures, sophisticated safety programmes and a safety-first culture that permeates everything the organisation does.

UK Power Networks Services’ innovative design of the power distribution systems on High Speed 1 included system resilience to allow planned maintenance to be undertaken during the working day. This has reduced risk and improved safety outcomes, contributing to maintenance goals and achieving a culture of safety through continuous improvement and learning.

The organisation’s Stay Safe programme is designed to challenge our beliefs about safety, helping individuals and teams to make better choices. This programme also encompasses our clients in the development of plans which can improve the safety performance in their organisations, ensuring a safety-first culture extends throughout the ecosystem of clients and our contractors. Continuous improvement has tackled safety through design, implementing rigorous safety practices and learning from incidents, hazards and near misses.

In order for safety programmes to be successful, managing health and wellbeing must also be addressed. UK Power Networks Services implements the ‘Your Energy’ programme to focus on the consequences energy levels can have on performance and safety. The programme brings tools and techniques which are pragmatic and accessible, and help teams to improve energy levels and exercise safety through improving physical and mental fitness, diet, hydration, rest and recovery.

These programmes and procedures are underpinned by a culture that prioritises safety above anything else. UK Power Networks Services have created a blame-free environment where all issues are taken seriously, investigated thoroughly and mitigations are put in place to prevent future hazards. This culture of continuous improvement has allowed UK Power Networks Services to embed safety as everyone’s priority – not only for field staff, but contractors, office staff and our clients.

Our impressive safety performance is a direct result of the dedication of our people who keep safety their top priority when they come to work each day, ensuring their colleagues and our clients go home to their families each evening.

The design, build and ongoing maintenance of national rail infrastructure projects brings significant challenges to those teams working on these projects. Safety should not be one of those challenges. Future projects have the opportunity to be the safest projects in the UK’s history. This ambition can be realised through innovative processes and programmes, and a culture where safety always comes first.