2,300 days is how long it has been since there was an injury so serious that a colleague had to take time off work in National Grid Venture’s (NGV) Interconnectors business.
2,300 is just over six years, which is a “remarkable and unusual achievement,” says Nick Sides, who leads the operational interconnectors for NGV.
This achievement is a good example of how high NGV’s safety standards are across the three operational interconnectors – IFA, BritNed and Nemo.
Interconnectors enable the efficient use of clean energy between the UK and Europe, they increase security of supply and deliver more affordable energy for consumers. Operating an interconnector includes the full range of business activities – including commercial, customer, regulation, systems and asset management – all undertaken by a team of about 100 people based in Solihull, on site at the converter stations and at various locations across Europe.
The operational assets can be quite challenging places to work. Nick explains that “the guys down on site, our partners and contractors respond to emergencies on land and at sea (if it’s a cable problem), and undertake extensive maintenance and repair activities. Operational activity increases during planned maintenance outages, when more than 200 people and heavy plant, including cranes, are on site.”
To put it bluntly, interconnector safety isn’t a walk in the park and yet we’ve achieved an impressive record that we are all very proud of.
But how have the teams managed to achieve this? Jon Davies, BritNed Commercial Director, provided some insights and, according to him, the team “genuinely care for each other and are more willing to call out unsafe acts, which is also the reason why they trust each other to ask for opinions if they are uncertain about carrying out works. In addition, the team are from a variety of backgrounds in different trades and openly discuss how their respective learnings can translate and help others.”
He explains: “The real intensive work, such as planned outages, are months in the preparation, which includes a detailed walk through in advance of the work being carried out.”
“What’s really helpful,” explains Nick, “is that because interconnectors link up two different countries, we can share safety best practice with partners overseas. We’re physically joined up to Europe, so we have a European safety view on everything that we do, which is really helpful.”
Nick adds: “Nothing is more important than the safety of our people. The risk of injury during operational work is a very real one, which we are constantly working hard to eliminate. While we have safe systems of work, standards and procedures, it’s the great safety behaviours of the team, and particularly the guys on site, that really makes the difference.”
National Grid and NGV are getting safety right, says Nick, “and I’m pretty sure this is a record. I can’t think of any other business at National Grid with an operation as big as ours achieving over six years LTI free. It’s something we are all very proud of.”