Networks champion safety as a moral and social responsibility

For immediate release – Friday 24 May 2013

Speakers at Energy Networks Association's (ENA) Well Connected Reception on Wednesday celebrated the health and safety work of the industry but warned of challenges ahead with new technologies, a loss of corporate memory and the current attack on standards.

David Smith, Chief Executive of ENA opened the event highlighting Powering Improvement, the industry's 5 year safety initiative and the focus of the reception:

"The success so far has been, in no small part, down to the partnership approach from the companies and the unions. Supporting a transformation in the approach to health and safety is by no means a small task but I believe it is right that we set ourselves ambitious goals to deliver a safe industry focused on individual health and well-being. This year's focus on behavioural safety is arguably the most challenging and will require trust, cooperation and recognition of personal responsibility."

Shadow Minister responsible for health and safety, Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP, returned to an ENA event 10 years after he spoke to launch the association as the voice of the networks in 2003.

"I'm delighted to be here to commend very warmly the work of Powering Improvement as an initiative with clarity and ambitious goals. There is a very impressive focus on partnership that highlights how good health and safety is vital for the wellbeing of employees and vital for business.

"The UK has very high standards for health and safety and we do need rigorous standards that are applied well to maintain this. It is not a time for complacency as we look ahead to the challenges of low carbon technologies, smart meters and an ageing workforce requiring greater use of contractors."

Frank Mitchell, CEO of ScottishPower Energy Networks and a champion for the 2013 theme of behavioural safety emphasised the value of effective safety leadership:

"Safety isn't a 'them and us' issue, there is only "us" and is all about collaboration. Safety is a moral and social responsibility and is the key priority for everyone in our industry; I look for recognition and dedication to health and safety from all my management team. When people go to their work, their families expect them to come home safely at the end of their shift. Powering Improvement is about ensuring our industry shares best practice to achieve this.

"As an industry we also face unprecedented levels of change through the dual challenges of new technologies and replacing an ageing workforce. I commend the work undertaken last year in Powering Improvement on asset management and the case studies from many companies, it is critical to share this corporate knowledge and with the changing workforce will be a huge risk for all our companies over the next few years."

Mike Clancy, General Secretary of Prospect and fellow champion for 2013 also criticised the status regulations have at the moment:

"I start from a position of being less sanguine about the regulatory context and I'm unsettled by the current government's activity. Good health and safety is synonymous with successful business, it is not a barrier to it. Our sector sees this and shouldn't become an oasis of best practice in a sea of deregulation.

"We have a situation where there are huge pressures and challenges but despite these we should celebrate our relationships and the ability to collaborate. It is crucial with our workforce turnover that we hand that baton on. This is our watch and we must not simply be passers-by."

Powering Improvement is the electricity industry's aim to be a world leader in health and safety by 2015. It has utilised the Health and Safety Executive's 'Be part of the solution' strategy and the learning from the industry's 10 years SAFELEC 2010 initiative. Three overarching themes of leadership, improving competence and worker involvement run throughout the 5 years. Each year has an annual focus area looking at; Leadership, Occupational Health and Wellbeing, Asset Management and Maintenance, Human and Organisational Factors: Behavioural Safety and Personal Responsibility, and in the final year looking ahead to the challenges of the future.

ENDS

Notes to editors

ENA is the voice of the networks representing the ‘wires and pipes’ transmission and distribution network operators for gas and electricity in the UK and Ireland.

For further information please contact:

Tim Field MCIPR,
Head of Press and Public Affairs
Energy Networks Association
E: [email protected]
T: +44 (0)207 706 5157
M: +44 (0)7725 372 758
W: www.energynetworks.org

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