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What the latest statistics tell us about health and safety priorities in the utilities sector

What the latest statistics tell us about health and safety priorities in the utilities sector

The Health and Safety Executive’s annual Health and Safety at Work report, detailing work-related ill-health and injury rates, highlighting trends and issues to help health and safety managers understand cross-industries patterns, makes for insightful reading for the utilities industry, where workers can face a range of potentially dangerous hazards.

The latest statistics come as the industry prepares to meet in Birmingham next week at the 2019 Utility Week Health, Safety & Wellbeing Conference and lead to the question as to what priorities they highlight for those responsible for health and safety management in the utilities sector industry?

Establishing a health and safety culture

The HSE report revealed that workers in the electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply industries reported the highest rate of self-reported work-related ill health and non-fatal injury. This evidence shows how vital health and safety practices are in utility businesses. At the Utility Week Conference, EDF Energy will present how an established health and safety culture influences large scale projects, using Hinckley Point C as an example. Panel discussions will examine the best ways to implement health and safety cultures and ask how utilities can achieve buy-in from from the boardroom down, ensuring that culture is fully adopted. Examples of best practice will be explored, looking at the implementation considerations of changing safety culture.

Wellbeing as an ongoing emphasis

Speakers from Southern Water, E.ON, Mace and Northern Gas Networks will discuss prioritising the occupational and mental health of employees, asking what can utilities learn from other industries. With the HSE statistics reporting 602,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety, they’ll debate if utilities companies are doing enough to identify health issues and protect employees. They’ll ask if sufficient progress is being made and what can be learnt from outside the sector. Crucially, they’ll examine if there is enough funding for wellbeing to be prioritised.

The use of technology in health and safety

Ahead of the Utility Week Conference, where sessions will be dedicated to examining the importance of innovation and the role of technology, Nicola Johnson from E.ON cited technology as having one of the most significant future impacts on health and safety. Along with wearable technology, such as FitBits, that monitors users vital statistics, smart Personal Protective Equipment is in development. These PPE developments include fatigue monitors and smart helmets that can measure temperature, oxygen levels, brain activity and heart rates and flag any potential problems, helping to reduce risks. Cold weather gear will be able to monitor a user’s body temperature, perspiration and humidity levels, particularly important for when employees are working outside in extreme conditions.

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