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      Comfort is the enemy of progress….

       

      The UK generation business is currently going through demanding changes both in fuel source and technologies.  

      Despite this, we see continued improvements to Safety Management Systems, safety rules, applications, procedures, equipment and attitudes.  But these aren’t by accident…………….they have to be worked at, nurtured and maintained.

      When I joined the CEGB in the late 70’s, there was a commitment to health and safety.  It wasn’t as high profile and entirely visible as it is now though. The words were there, the will for implementation often wasn’t.  For example, take the number of jobs power station operations staff carried out in the past that would be definite no no’s now…….. It makes for interesting reading:

      Condenser tube picks without a permit to work or atmosphere test, climbing up inside drained humid water boxes to tube pick (without scaffolding or harnessess).  Lone working in coal bunkers and climbing inside coal feeders without full electrical isolations.  Acoustic noise enclosures with only three walls!!  A lack of asbestos management clarity. The list goes on……….

      We’ve improved beyond all recognition and a tremendous amount of work has been put in along the way by staff at all levels both before and post privatisation.  The industry culture is one of ‘accepting safety challenges without question’ an ideal quickly adopted by all who come into the industry and supported wholeheartedly by our contract partners, many of whom have joined us on this journey to strive for safety excellence.

      I followed my father into this business and now my son has followed me….. and in this next generation there is an acceptance of the standards that he and his peers are expected to apply. It bodes well for the future.

      So, going forward………don’t fear change for the better….only fear no change at all!

      Martin Viggars (Vigs) GradIOSH, DipNEBOSH, SIRM
      Operations Director at Engage Safety.

      photo: Neil Williams