The voice of the networks

Commitment to public safety

We’re committed to keeping you safe. Working with HSE, we have set out the industry’s commitment to improving public safety and detailing various initiatives that aim to achieve this.

We regularly review initiative progress and projects future campaigns based on an analysis of HSE statistics involving members of the public coming into contact with the networks.

This is the 13th update to our public safety strategy, it was first launched in 2007 and has since been refreshed on an annual basis.

The strategy, which is supported by HSE, aims to reduce the number of incidents, in particular those causing fatalities and injuries, to members of the public (including “third party contractors” i.e. not directly employed by our members) coming into contact with electricity transmission and distribution network assets.

The risks from electricity assets are themes that are broadly reoccurring, however the UK electricity transmission and distribution network operators have worked continually to drive a steady reduction in the number of public fatalities and injuries as a result of coming into contact with electricity network assets over the years.

Through this two-year strategy, the ENA Public Safety Committee with support from HSE will work with industry stakeholders to achieve a marked reduction in the number of public fatalities and public injuries in association with activities in the vicinity of UK electricity network assets.

Through working together and education with the public on a national level, the industry aims to achieve this. It will also work towards meeting the targets set within the Electricity Industry Health and Safety Strategy ‘Powering Improvement’ for 2020-2025 to:

  • Work with industry stakeholders to reduce the number of public fatalities and public injuries in association with activities in the vicinity of UK electricity industry assets; and
  • Aspire to reduce the number of third party contacts to overhead lines and underground cables by 10% by 2025.

Our public safety commitment

ENA members and HSE will work in partnership with the aim to reduce the number of incidents, in particular fatalities and injuries, caused to members of the public coming into contact with the electricity transmission and distribution network.

An analysis of the fatal, injurious and near miss incidents involving the public indicate that priority focus areas are:

  1. Accidental contact with Overhead Lines (OHLs); For example incidents involving tippers, material handling equipment, ladders, poles and other long objects, tree climbing/cutting and incidents on public highways, domestic properties, agricultural and forestry land;
  2. Wilful interference (e.g. vandalism, trespass and in particular metal theft);
  3. Damage to underground cables including services to domestic properties;
  4. Asset failures and deterioration (e.g. link box faults);
  5. Fires involving DNO apparatus on consumers’ premises;
  6. Communication with groups most at risk from electricity networks (both OHLs and underground services) and support national campaigns and initiatives to raise awareness of the dangers from activity carried out in the vicinity of electricity networks

Initiatives and measures to reduce incidents in these areas

  • Accidental contact with Overhead Lines (OHLs)

    These include incidents involving tippers, material handling equipment, ladders, poles and other long objects, tree climbing/cutting and incidents on public highways, domestic properties, agricultural and forestry land.

    We will:

    • coordinate and run national campaigns – such as LookOutLookUp! – to reach key target sectors and audiences
    • continually promote the ‘Look Out! Look Up!’ videos produced in 2018 & 2019 with a focus on road haulage and transport companies and farming in the agricultural sector
    • include known public safety considerations, so far as is reasonably practicable, early in the design stage for all new schemes (e.g. new lines, rebuilding or major refurbishment and diversions)
    • ensure that public safety concerns are considered in specific projects
    • make available safety information for landowners and occupiers to increase awareness of the dangers in the vicinity of electrical equipment
    • address activities of those working in proximity to overhead lines and help set out agreed mitigating actions;
    • send information to customers, developers, land owners etc, when they indicate refurbishment of property is likely;
    • will work with HSE, the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP) and other key stakeholders to improve awareness in the agricultural sector of the risks of working in the vicinity of electricity networks assets, in particular overhead power lines
    • promote the use of warning labels on mobile plant and work equipment, scaffolds, ladders etc
    • engage with trade associations and training organisations for high risk work activities e.g. crane, mini-digger and tipper lorry drivers and operators
    • engage with equipment manufacturers and operators of equipment to promote safer working near overhead electricity networks and issue industry standard material (i.e. leaflets and cab stickers) to ensure a consistent industry public safety messages are continually communicated
  • Wilful interference

    This includes vandalism, trespass and in particular metal theft.

    We will:

    • manage the Security Incident Reporting System (SIRs) national database to better inform industry action
    • together with our members, continue to support relevant regional and national campaigns
    • continue to host national workshops involving all stakeholders to share best practice on how to manage the issue
  • Damage to underground cables

    This includes services to domestic properties.

    We will:

    • produce a public safety video on the dangers of working in the vicinity of underground cables and promote it through using social media
    • provide leaflets and other safety information
    • continue to be actively engaged with the work of the Utility Strikes Avoidance Group (USAG)
    • engage with other utilities, contractors and local government bodies (e.g. TfL, highways agency etc.) to promote safer working near underground electricity network assets
    • work closely with relevant groups to ensure that the public safety implications of the smart meter roll out are fully considered
    • provide advice and guidance to domestic property owners on safe digging practices
  • Asset failures and deterioration

    This includes things like link box faults.

    We will:

    • continue to populate the NeDERs database to inform asset owners of any type faults or equipment issues
    • investigate and communicate asset failure issues to manufacturers and Network operators
    • set up working groups to deal with and mitigate any industry wide asset specific issues
  • Fires involving apparatus on consumers’ premises

    We will:

    • continue to carry out fire specific risk assessments on network substations
    • develop industry best practice guidance for emergency services
    • build relationships and engage with local fire authorities and provide advice and guidance on electrical fire safety
  • Communication with groups most at risk from electricity networks

    This includes overhead lines and underground services.

    We will support national campaigns and initiatives to raise awareness of the dangers from activity carried out in the vicinity of electricity networks. We will:

    • promote specific safety information for identified at-risk groups
    • continue to promote safety at public events such as county and trade shows (including events organised with other stakeholders such as Farm Safety Partnership, NFUHSE, Freight Transport Association, Road Haulage Association, the construction sector and angling authorities) and in schools
    • support HSE, as necessary, in the revision of guidance for reporting public safety incidents
    • continue to work with relevant organisations, such as Electrical Safety First, to communicate public safety messages
    • promote awareness of the 105 number for use in overhead line emergencies
    • include public safety issues in their policies and share best practice