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Star speakers address industry leading health and safety conference in Gateshead

24 May 2018

Energy industry representatives will gather in Gateshead today for one of the UK’s leading health and safety conferences.


Energy Networks Association’s (ENA) annual Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) Management Conference, hosted in collaboration with Northern Powergrid, the region’s electricity network operator, brings together leading examples of best practice in the field from industry, charities and the public sector.

This year will see contributions from BBC Astronauts star Dr Suzie Imber and former RAF fast-jet pilot Mandy Hickson, as well as from the Environment Agency, mental health charity Mind, Nissan and manufacturers association EEF.

The Conference plays a key part of the energy networks’ Powering Improvement strategy, which aims to improve safety, health and environment working practices for the men and women responsible for keeping our lights on, our homes warm and our businesses running. The Strategy has been cited by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as a leading example of industry best practice.

This year’s Powering Improvement theme is Human & Organisational Factors, which focusses on creating the right conditions to support individual responsibility for health and safety in the work place.

Speaking ahead of the conference, ENA Chief Executive David Smith said:

 “This year’s SHE Management Conference has a packed agenda full of exciting speakers, with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Through collaboration and innovation, our industry has a strong record of delivering networks that are safer to operate, safer for our employees and safer for the customers that we serve, as we look forward to sharing knowledge from other industries for the benefit of all.”

 Peter Emery, CEO at Electricity North West Limited and Powering Improvement Champion comments:

“I am pleased and excited to take on the role of Champion, particularly this year with the focus on Human and Organisational Factors. Thirty years of experience working in the energy industry has shown me that top class safety performance will not be achieved without positive and constructive working relationships at all levels both in and between organisations.

“The fundamental ingredient that underpins all this is trust and this is only sustained through action and safety leadership in the widest sense. I look forward to highlighting the importance of these factors to secure a safe working environment for all.”

Sue Ferns, Senior Deputy General Secretary of the union Prospect is also a Power Improvement Champion. She adds:

“Despite reductions in accident rates, we still have a long way to go to achieve our joint aim of ensuring that everyone in the sector returns home after a day at work uninjured and without any harm to their health.

“A safe working environment is also a productive working environment: moreover a culture that values individuals will appeal to all parts of society as the industry aims to recruit an unprecedented number of new entrants.”

Geoff Earl, Northern Powergrid’s Director of Health, Safety and Environment and a Powering Improvement Champion, said:

“We’re proud to support ENA and to host this leading industry conference here in Gateshead.  As the company responsible for the region’s power network, keeping our people and our customers safe is our top priority.  Events such as this, supported by a focused and collaborative strategy, help ensure we continue to power improvements that benefit the industry, our people and the quality of service we deliver for our customers every day.”

Notes to editor

  • Further information on the Powering Improvement initiative is available here.
  • The programme for SHE 2018 can be found here.
  • The electricity industry’s successful Powering Improvement health and safety initiative was held up as an example of best practice at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) national conference in London in September 2017. See more here.
  • A Powering Improvement Champion is a senior high-level champion is appointed to be a figurehead for the year - i.e. to “champion” the chosen theme for that year across industry and to speak at Powering Improvement events
  • Northern Powergrid, this year’s conference host network operator, is responsible for the network that safely delivers electricity to 3.9 million homes and businesses across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire.

About us

Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the energy networks. Our members include every major electricity network operator in the UK. The electricity networks are at the heart of the energy transition. They directly employ more than 26,000 people in the UK, including 1,500 apprentices. They are spending and investing £33bn in our electricity grids over the coming years, to ensure safe, reliable and secure energy supplies for the millions of homes and businesses reliant on power every day.

Press contacts

You can contact ENA's press office by emailing For urgent or out-of-hours enquiries from journalists, please call 0204 599 7691.