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8 rules for improving electrical system management on industrial sites

by | Nov 6, 2017 | Engineering Design & HSE

Most electrical incidents on industrial sites occur due to two reasons. The first is people are working on or near equipment that is thought to be dead but which is live. The second is that people are working on or near equipment known to be live but those involved do not have adequate training or appropriate equipment, or they have not taken suitable precautions. The latter is highly common: we’ve often been called to action by our clients as they have limited expertise in the management of electrical systems, or simply lack the resources and time to ensure safety and compliance as they are facing pressures from core business operations and delivery.

Taking a proactive approach to electrical safety management (ESM) has benefits that affect the entire business, among them are:

  • Protection of the safety of all company employees
  • Reduction of risk to the business
  • Compliance with regulatory duties imposed upon employers
  • Positive reputation with customers
  • Improved plant reliability.

We’ve used our many years of experience in helping clients with ESM to compile a list of 8 rules for improving electrical system management on industrial sites. This is by no means a definitive list, however it provides an indication of what is typically required to take a best practice approach.

  1. Mind the gap: Use skilled and experienced engineers to conduct baseline assessments and gap analyses of existing systems. These ensure that every aspect of the electrical installations on your site comply with current legislation, codes of practice, standards and established best practice.
  2. Empower your people: Assess and enhance the competency of personnel working on your electrical distribution system. Although it can be time-consuming, this is worth the investment and effort in the short and long term. It should be done by evaluating core staff and supplementary contractors, base lining and developing skills from there.
  3. Be on record: All electrical site records should accurately reflect your site installation. This is required by law – but records can also be enhanced to ensure full compliance.
  4. Proceed with procedures: HV and LV switching operations should be authorised based on professionally structured procedures.
  5. Assess and reassess: Technical proposals for new, modified or updated installations should be reviewed to ensure they are installed, tested and commissioned correctly and that the necessary training is delivered and maintenance is adequately planned.
  6. Audit your paper trail: Enhance and authorise properly documented and controlled procedures and safe systems of work. This ensures that all personnel working on or near electrical installations do so in a safe and controlled manner.
  7. Make condition your mission: Undertake full condition assessment of electrical infrastructure for compliance, condition and safety. This should include switchgear, transformers, reactors and other distribution items.
  8. Who you gonna call: In the event of an incident you’ll need quick access to technical leadership on-hand to support HSE interventions and the possible investigation of the root cause as well as the immediate remedial work required.

At GSE Systems we offer a flexible service to deliver ESM requirements specific to your site’s exact needs. Encompassing consultancy, design and project delivery, our services range from secondment of an Electrical Technical Authority, to full integration with your senior technical team, or ad-hoc supplementary services for expert advice and commissions.

For more information and technical advice relating to all industries, watch our free on-demand webinar on ensuring compliance for electrical power systems in COMAH establishments.


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