As rail projects move off the drawing board and into reality, together as an industry we have the opportunity to deliver the safest price control period (CP6) in the UK’s history.
This ambition can only be realised through an unrelenting focus on safety, innovative processes and training programmes for colleagues and clients, and a culture where safety always comes first.
An organisation’s safety programme needs to challenge employees’ beliefs about safety, helping individuals and teams to make better choices. Programmes also need to involve delivery teams in the development of plans which can improve the safety performance in their own organisations, ensuring a safety-first culture extends across the ecosystem of clients and contractors.
In order for safety programmes to be successful, managing health and wellbeing must also be addressed, including the influence energy levels can have on performance and safety. An impactful programme creates tools and techniques which are pragmatic and accessible, and helps teams to improve energy levels through improving physical and mental fitness, diet, hydration, rest and recovery. Healthy teams are safer teams.
It’s crucial that these programmes are underpinned by a culture that prioritises safety above anything else. A blame-free environment, where all issues are taken seriously, investigated thoroughly and mitigations are put in place to prevent future hazards builds trust and sustains safety.
A culture of continuous improvement has allowed us to embed safety as everyone’s priority at UK Power Networks Services – not only for staff, but also for contractors and clients. Continuous improvement is driven by analytics which inform proactive action. Safety pervades through design, implementing rigorous safety practices and learning from incidents, hazards and near misses.
We lead in health and safety, with over 4 million working hours, and more than 10 years providing the traction and non-traction power to High Speed 1 without a single lost time injury. This exceptional safety record on High Speed 1 and across the rest of the business isn’t luck, it’s the result of a safety-first culture that permeates everything we do. The implementation of 100 mental health first aiders across the business to support the wellbeing of our teams is a recent example of this.
Our innovative design of the power distribution systems on High Speed 1 includes 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. We have also incorporated interactive technologies such as augmented and virtual reality to increase the effectiveness and accessibility of our training.
Not only do we manage the associated risks of working with electricity, but we deliver safely for our clients in the most complex and challenging environments every day. Whilst working on Europe’s busiest runways, trackside on the UK’s fastest mainline railway, at nuclear sites, and military facilities we have achieved an unprecedented safety record.
Our commitment and relentless focus on safety goes beyond just aiming for zero harm and moves to a focus on ‘beyond zero’, where our staff’s physical and mental wellbeing, and quality of life is actively improved at work. This leads to healthier, stronger, smarter and better trained teams that are also engaged with safety at all levels and who arrive home in better shape than when they left.
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 clients go home to their families safely 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.