Articles & Case Studies

Optimise engages Cognisco to reduce cable strike risks

Posted: Monday 11th May 2015

Optimise, one of the main contractors for Thames Water’s landmark waterways upgrade project, is working with people risk specialist Cognisco to assess engineers in cable strike avoidance techniques to ensure they can meet and demonstrate competence, confidence and project safety compliance standards set by Thames Water.

Thames Water aims to reduce the risk of underground cable strikes and improve safety standards for engineers working on the waterways upgrade project by mandating they undertake a cable avoidance evaluation assessment.

Starting this month, Thames Water’s five year project will see the transformation of its ageing Victorian water and sewerage networks. The company has appointed eight 2O, an alliance of several leading companies who will be providing engineers to deliver the project.

One of the main project risks is engineers’ accidently striking underground cables. An estimated 60,000 underground cable strikes occur every year which can cause serious injury or death and cost businesses millions of pounds in associated damages and compensation costs.

To reduce cable strike risks, Thames Water is requiring all engineers to complete a cable avoidance assessment to demonstrate their competence and confidence about cable strike avoidance before joining the project.

Cognisco’s Cable Avoidance Evaluation offers a new approach to traditional cable strike avoidance training based on the latest behavioural training and assessment techniques.

This assessment uses situational judgement questions based on realistic scenarios that utilities workers encounter daily and measures the knowledge, competence and confidence of workers in all aspects of the role. The results reveal what people know, as well as their behaviour and attitude towards risk, and highlight any knowledge gaps and specific training needs so they can be addressed.

To date, 1035 individuals from 28 different companies working through Optimise have participated in the Cable Avoidance Evaluation and the assessment will be delivered to hundreds more engineers.

Nick Gilbert, Health, Safety, Environment and Quality Manager at Optimise said, “The industry has worked hard to reduce the number of strikes in recent years and the introduction of the Cognisco behavioural assessment really made us refocus on the ‘risk’ of people and develop improved briefings and training to ensure our people have the right balance of competence and confidence. This, combined with other initiatives, has led to a year on year reduction of service strikes and I am convinced that the assessment has contributed to this success.”

Cognisco’s Justine Cappi, the Account Manager leading the project said, “Thames Water is putting safety first by insisting engineers demonstrate their competence and confidence in relation to cable strike avoidance before embarking on this high profile project. We are delighted to work with Optimise to improve the knowledge and safety of thousands of project engineers and in time we hope this work will translate into a major reduction in the number of cable strikes.”

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