Tailored hands-on training increases electrical safety awareness and improves operational resilience at Yorkshire Water

Over the past six years, more than 70 Yorkshire Water employees who install or regularly come into contact with electrical IT systems, electrical cabinets and data cabling, have benefited from tailored, on-site training provided by Technical Training Solutions (Tech Training).

“As a result of the Electrical Routine Checks training provided by Technical Training Solutions, our employees are now more aware of the potential risks associated with electrical equipment, which means they are safer and can more easily identify any potential faults,” states James Neill, IT Support & Operations at Yorkshire Water and responsible for the safety and security of the IT environment across the business – including server rooms, offices and any other location where IT cabinets, computers or data cabling are installed.

He continues: “The culture and attitude of staff here has also improved. If a piece of electrical equipment looks faulty, employees take ownership of the problem and report it using the appropriate reporting forms and in a more technically-accurate language that maintenance engineers can understand and react to accordingly. Also, any electrical faults are now addressed more quickly and we can prioritise which repairs are critical.”

At Yorkshire Water, IT staff or any employee that installs, repairs or comes into contact with electrical equipment (i.e. computers, servers, IT cabinets, monitors, data cabling and power sockets) is potentially at risk. From a Health & Safety perspective, it is therefore critical that these employees are fully trained and made aware of the potential risks associated with handling this type of equipment. “The training from Tech Training has given us more sets of trained eyes, who are now able to spot potential faults with electrical equipment. As a result, Yorkshire Water is benefiting from improved operational resilience, with reduced equipment downtime and outages,” explains Neill.

And that’s not all: “We subcontract any electrical maintenance or repairs to a third party provider. Sending one of these engineers to a remote location in Yorkshire to rectify a potential problem can be costly, particularly if that engineer is relying on poorly written or a misleading fault report about the electrical equipment. The engineer could even turn up on-site with the wrong tools to rectify the problem. It is therefore essential that employees who report an electrical fault are able to articulate the issue to us in the right language.”

With more than 30 different IT locations across Yorkshire, the business cannot afford any costly errors that will adversely affect the operational resilience of the business or increase the risk to its employees.

Tailored hands-on training

Back in 2013, James Neill spoke to the electrical resilience team at Yorkshire Water, who suggested he approached Tech Training, who had provided training for their team a few years previously.

Following a site visit to discuss the training requirements in detail, Tech Training then went away and devised a specific one-day course that precisely matched Yorkshire Water’s needs. James Neill requested an on-site pilot course first, a one-day ‘Electrical Routine Checks’ training course for between six and eight IT staff, including himself. The course was well received and so James Neill organised for 50 further employees to attend on-site, one-day training courses over a period of two weeks, with a maximum of eight delegates attending each course. More recently, in 2018, Tech Training provided similar training to a further 20 Yorkshire Water employees.

The ‘Electrical Routine Checks’ course itself, which was hosted by Tech Training instructor, David Larner, featured a number of electrical topics, including the legislation and regulations applicable to electrical installations; Electricity at Work regulations and the dangers of electricity; electrical insulation; the effects of electric shock; the technical terms used to describe common electrical components; how overloads can occur; how main and supplementary bonding should be installed; and the frequency of routine equipment checks.

These topics were followed by practical exercises including identifying dangers from photographs of electrical systems. Having covered all the necessary background information, course attendees then carried out practical routine checks on a range of electrical demonstration rigs. Each rig had several faults that the attendees were expected to identify and then complete the demonstration paperwork to report their findings. The course concludes with an assessment paper to ensure that the candidates understood the key teaching points of the course. If successful, the candidates were awarded a certificate of competence.

David Larner comments: “Our approach at Tech Training is always to teach course attendees to ‘learn by doing’. We therefore include lots of practical exercises and fault-finding techniques, which run in parallel with the theory. The objective is to improve the delegates’ knowledge and understanding, which will lead to competency in that discipline. We don’t want to produce robots that have been taught about theory only – we want them to actually understand what ‘good’ looks like and why they are being asked to do things in a certain way.”

Positive feedback

As James Neill states: “The feedback from our employees who attended the training courses provided by Technical Training Solutions has been very positive indeed. The courses were designed specifically for us, which is really important because it means that our employees could relate all of the course content to their day jobs. Much of the course content involved hands-on exercises with test rigs and identifying potential faults from photographs and the dangers of electricity.”

“The courses have been an excellent method of raising awareness of electrical safety. Those who’ve attended the courses now have the knowledge, skills and language to do things the right way or to ask the right question if they don’t have the know-how. We look forward to working closely with Tech Training on future training initiatives,” Neill concludes.

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