In the electricity sector, planning and executing work safely requires knowledge of the law and implementation of a range of standards to prevent unwanted incidents and accidents. They regulate the safety of the entire process - already from the design stage. Workplace safety promotion activities are obvious for electric utility companies. Here, safety is the most important responsibility due to the extent of hazardous works and potentially dangerous incidents. So, what safety standards must an electric power entity meet?
CIGRE - Upholding Safety and Project Quality
Concern for safety begins as early as at the design stage. CIGRE is a 100-year-old non-profit organization, of which Poland was a founding member from the beginning. Its purpose is to exchange technical knowledge among specialists from around the world on the improvement of power systems (with emphasis on high-voltage generation and transmission). In this sense, safety issues refer to international standards for designing electrical networks and equipment so that they are safe for use. The services of Polish electric companies should take into account international guidelines in this regard.
Safety of Contracted Works - Rules and Regulations
The most important safety regulations in the electric power industry are created by national laws or by companies, increasing the safety of their employees and introducing safety regulations for works on live systems or particularly dangerous works. The detailed provisions take into account the business profile and potential risks encountered during project execution.
General Safety Provisions
This group of acts contains provisions relating to the construction industry as a whole, some of which also apply to the electric power industry, and regulations that specify issues related to the power industry. The following are currently applicable laws and regulations.
- Labour Code governing basic rights, responsibilities and requirements for ensuring safe work.
- Construction Law, which governs activities that include matters of design, construction, maintenance and demolition of buildings, including energy facilities.
- Energy Law - an act of 10 April 1997, the purpose of which is to create conditions for sustainable development of the country, to ensure energy security and economical and rational use of fuels and energy, taking into account environmental protection requirements.
- Regulation on Occupational Safety and Health During Construction Works - regulates issues related to ensuring occupational safety during construction processes (also in the area of energy facilities).
- Regulation on Health and Safety at Power Equipment - amendments were recently made to the Act, effective 28 August 2019, that also include safety issues. The new regulation on health and safety at power equipment strongly emphasis ensuring safe operation of the equipment. Currently, each piece of equipment must have an operating manual with a range of precisely defined information that must be included in it (such as identification of hazards to human health and life and to the environment, as well as qualification requirements for persons involved in the operation of the equipment or group of power equipments).
- General Occupational Safety and Health Regulations - regulation of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy of 26 September 1997 on general rules for maintaining workplace safety (OSH regulations).
Eltel Networks, as a company that meets stringent safety standards, has participated in projects for National Grid in the UK and Stattnett in Norway - with the highest health and safety requirements for contractors.
Workplace Safety is Often a Self-Initiative of Electric Companies
In addition to complying with regulatory requirements, electric companies create their own rules, often much stricter than those generally prescribed by law. Entities in Poland and Europe, paying special attention to the protection of employees, implement the strengthening of safety culture through education and prevention of incidents, rather than just information about the correct response in the event of an accident. Here are some examples of such activities...
ISO 45001 - Occupational Health and Safety Management System
Measures to strengthen the safety culture in the electric utility include the implementation of ISO 45001, the Occupational Health and Safety Management System. Effective as of March 2018, it emphasizes accident prevention and an increased role for management (it assumes full responsibility for preventive work safety activities), as well as stricter requirements for communication, risk and opportunity planning, and increased control (in the context of OHS) over the implementation of planned changes in the company.
Eltel Networks Energetyka SA - Training Centre Initiative
As the only company in the power industry in Poland, to meet the demand, Eltel Networks Energetyka SA has created its own Training Centre that organizes electrical power engineering workshops and training courses in Gutkowo, Poland. The Centre was established based on many years of experience in Poland and on European markets (Finland, United Kingdom and Sweden). Training courses are organized for company employees. The lecturers are Eltel Networks employees - professionals and practitioners who do not only give opportunity to improve one’s qualifications or obtain additional authorizations, but also offer to exercise skills of dealing with real difficulties encountered while working on high voltage lines or particularly dangerous works. OHS - Occupational Health and Safety - is the subject of training and special attention of lecturers.
LSR - Life Saving Rules
Many companies in the electric power industry implement sets of basic workplace safety rules known as Life Saving Rules. One example is a Set of General Rules Relating to the Greatest Risks Encountered in the Power Industry developed by Polskie Sieci Energetyczne (Polish Power Grid). The rules indicate the responsibilities of the employees executing a given order and those supervising the team works and prohibited activities. The LSRs are addressed to PSE employees, but their universal character can serve anyone working in the electric power industry.
- Keep safe distances - because of the danger to health and life posed by electric shock and arc burns - for live and near voltage work!
- Observe work orders and use checklists - for work on network assets carried out under particularly hazardous conditions, based on a written order!
- Observe safe organization of work in electrical power engineering!
- When working at height, protect yourself and your tools from falling!
- Wear work clothing, footwear and personal protective equipment whenever required!
- Drive safely!
- React and report dangerous situations!
Agreement for Safety in Construction - preventing risks and accidents
This organization, which was established at the initiative of general contractors - construction companies, aims to reduce the number of accidents on construction sites by implementing safety standards, including systemic health and safety solutions, as well as educational and training activities. The construction industry has been the focus of the association's activities, but much of the dozen or so safety standards implemented also apply to the electric power industry.
Restrictive safety requirements make workers feel safe. Electric power companies create policies and standards of conduct and have a long-standing commitment to minimizing the risk of accidents and adverse events. The use of new technical tools implies a constant modification of the recommendations for ensuring work safety. Their implementation is carried out in cooperation with organizations working to improve safety and on the basis of our own and our business partners' experience.
Are you planning a new investment in an electrical system? Or are you looking for a company to plan and execute upgrades to your existing infrastructure? Check out our article about electrical services and learn what to consider when choosing a good electrical company.
Author: Przemysław Wielgus