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In the Loop

WG.B3.46 Guidelines for safe work methods in substations

Why should substation designers write or discuss safety topics when health and safety professionals are the experts?  Why has the level of improvement in safety performance reached a plateau and, in spite of all the focus on training and procedures, do workers still have injuries?  These two questions were critical factors that led to a comprehensive review of all aspects of substation development and total life cycle to determine what needs to change to drive further improvement in safety performance.  Working Group B3.46 has produced Technical Brochure 805, “Guidelines for safe work methods in substations”.  The Australian members on this working group were Terry Krieg and Kerry Williams.  The Brochure identifies design practices that can reduce substation hazards and the shift in utility culture that needs to occur at all levels of the company. 

Following on from the work on Technical Brochure 734, “Managing Risk in Substations”, it was recognised that a new Technical Brochure was needed that would encompass safety across all aspects of substation development and total life cycle.  A questionnaire was created, to capture the contemporary concept of safety.  A workshop was also held in the 2018 Paris Session to confirm or verify the questionnaire results and to gather additional collective thoughts in the industry. The workshop proved to be a tremendous success for information and diversity of opinions.  The original safety programmes for safe methods and practices were developed based on a substation environment with little input from the operations and maintenance perspective. Health and safety professionals over the decades have developed policies, procedures and training to improve conditions and records but the level of improvement has reached a plateau. It was identified that there was a need to involve designers to design out or mitigate the substation hazards to better control the outcome. 

This TB addresses many of the best utility work practices identified by the workshop and questionnaire.   Concepts on design and methods are presented by utilities around the world that have managed to overcome the frustration of a flat line plateau and moved the needle of progress toward fewer accidents.  Designing substations for safety is not a new concept but communications with all stakeholders is a key element.   The TB identifies the shift in utility culture that needs to take place at all levels from the front-line worker to the executive board of the company.  Work is planned to be undertaken safely yet injuries still occur, and this can often be attributed to change of one form or another.  It makes no difference if the job is large or small; working safely applies to all jobs. 

The Technical Brochure is available free to members and € 300  to non-members.