How HazardZone Access Control can help prevent Utilities Strikes.

Date:
17.11.2021
By:
Matt Young
Topic:
HazardZone

I spent Tuesday morning of this week on site speaking to a major contractor about some of the issues they have been facing, and what they have tried to do to stop these happening again.

Of course on site accidents is one of the first things that comes up. Being able to keep people safe is their number one priority. But one thing that shocked me was the number of times they kept mentioning service strikes. Not only are they hitting unknown services, but services they can physically see!

This is a bit anecdotal, but I’ll tell the story any way…

This contractor was replacing a water pipe in the South East. They had completed their safety procedures (RAMS etc) and had surveyed the site before preparing to dig.

They had completed their safety procedures and had surveyed the site before preparing to dig.

They dug. And they didn’t hit anything. Success! But unfortunately they had the wrong spec pipe with them, that was supposed to be used as the replacement. No worries, the local builder’s merchant has the correct spec and they are 20 minutes down the road. It’s frustrating but they aren’t going to have massive overruns or worse damage the existing pipe.

One of the team is sent to the builder’s merchants to pick up the pipe, and returns back to site under an hour. What he comes back to is simply put as a complete disaster! The excavator operator has decided to start work removing the existing pipe, and it’s all gone horribly wrong. There is water everywhere. What went from being an hour delay, is now looking at a full day operation to fix this man-made issue.

The team managed to get things under control and replaced the pipe, but the damage had already been done.

One angry resident’s call to the local authority resulted in a £10,000 fine.

One angry resident’s call to the local authority resulted in a £10,000 fine, and a simple task that should have taken 2 hours, had taken 2 days, at the cost of the contractor. I guess the one upside is that no one was hurt.

Could PLINX have helped in this situation? Possibly. The root cause is human error; maybe due to training inadequacy, or maybe due to misconduct, that’s not for me to comment on. But PLINX can help prevent these events in the future.

Using our Smart Permit system we can make sure that the correct information is present before we dig. Have we completed a RAMS document? Yes, because it is included in the Smart Permit. Have we sufficiently mapped out the area, and included Hazard Zones. Yes, because it is included in the Smart Permit. Do we have a robust audit trail we can look back on when incidents do occur? Yes, because it is included in the Smart Permit.

We have created a digital pass for our people to work from.

We can thread this information into our HazardZone Access Control systems, to make sure only the right people and machines are in the area of the utilities line.

We can reduce the risk of cable strikes by creating a red zone within the Affect Platform, or we can place HazardTags to create a working offset to make sure we don’t creep. These zones can only be accessible by those who are allowed to work in close proximity to the machine, or to the utility line, because they have the correct role or qualifications.

We can reduce the risk of cable strikes by creating a red zone within the Affect Platform.

So, we now have a methodology that ties inline with existing processes, that can reduce the proximity of people and plant to dangerous, or sensitive places. Will we completely stop the excavator operator from “thinking outside the box”? No. But we have given them the tools to be alerted before they enter those dangerous places. Maybe next time they will recognize the situation and think before they act. And if they don’t, we have a robust data stream to check events and compliance, and tangible, quality information to ensure the team continuously improve.