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August 19, 2009

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Electricity sector’s annual safety performance revealed

The annual number of fatalities and major injuries in the electrical
industry has fallen, along with the number of days lost to injury, but
days lost due to ill health and stress have increased.

These are the headline trends revealed by the annual SAFELEC report, which charts the progress the electrical sector is making on managing health and safety.

The report, produced by the National Health and Safety Committee of the Electricity Industry (National HESAC), looks at activities of member companies of the Energy Networks Association – which itself comprises members of the Association of Electricity Producers, trade unions, contractors, and the HSE. It charts progress against specific collective industry targets agreed under SAFELEC 2000, the joint strategic plan for health and safety in the electricity industry launched in 1999.

Commenting on the latest statistics, Peter McCormick, chair of ENA’s safety health and environment committee, said: “The eighth year of figures from the SAFELEC 2010 programme offers both reasons for optimism about the approach the industry is taking to improve safety and a reminder of the challenges we still face.

“ENA and its members remain committed to taking a proactive approach to improve safety. We will use the information and insights gained from SAFELEC to identify issues we need to focus on. SAFELEC 2010 has two years left to run and ENA member companies have already begun, in partnership with the trade unions and HSE, to consider the lessons learned from the current initiative and to discuss issues and priorities to be addressed in the coming decade.”

HSE head of utilities, Nick Summers, said: “Proactive work is being taken forward by all sides to identify how the industry can contribute to the delivery of the new HSE strategy. Elements such as the ENA’s recent behavioral research provides a vital insight into wider issues and will help steer future priorities.

“There is clearly no magic wand in health and safety – however, strong organisational leadership, together with the involvement of workers to tackle risks can build a foundation for sustained future improvement.”

Trade union Prospect’s deputy-general secretary, Mike Clancy, commented: “The 2008 figures related to work-related ill-health incidence and work-related stress continue to be a cause for concern, reflecting what many staff regard as the unrelenting pace of change in the industry.

“Given we are set for a huge surge of investment in pursuit of the low carbon-energy future, described in government policy, then the demands being made are not going to diminish, and so we need to consider at industry and company level what needs to be done to address the pressures reflected in these results.”

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