Reinventing the Safety Alert System

Rob Douglas - Energyedge Limited

EEA Conference Auckland 20-22 June 2018


Safety alerts are an important tool for communicating risks and signalling actions or directives. They are typically issued by organisations when an accident or incident occurs or where key risks and hazards are identified that threaten workers' safety. This paper looks at the current role that safety alerts play in the electricity sector and questions the poor dissemination of alerts within organisations and across the wider industry. It identifies the barriers and defamatory pressures that tend to suppress the production or sharing of alerts and highlights the duties and privileges that should serve as a counterpoint. It looks at the quality, quantity and relevance of alerts, and also at the roles suppliers, manufacturers, networks and contractors (as PCBUs) play in their production. It notes the typical bias of alerts towards workplace issues and risks; and asks if the focus of alerts can be widened to cover public, private and boundary risks. This paper takes a fundamental look at who has the information to make the industry safer, and highlights the importance of capturing anecdotes, ‘trade secrets’ and mistakes, so as to lead to a more reflective learning environment. Citing governance best practice, this paper argues how an open safety alert system can identify critical risks and help protect organisations from unprotected disclosures (‘Whistleblowers’) whilst improving the safety culture and the management of assets.

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