Solar safety achievement

Solar Safety

SOLAR SAFETY: Steel River Consultants has notched up an accident-free year.

STEEL River Consultants, the UK’s leading green energy health and safety consultancy, is celebrating an accident-free year.

The company, which is based at Douglas Court, in Stockton-on-Tees, worked on 28 different solar projects for seven clients throughout the country last year without a single reportable safety incident.

Health and safety expert Chris Lawson hailed the feat as “a massive achievement” accomplished ahead of changes to the feed-in tariffs last month.

Chris explained: “SRC has worked with seven solar clients on 28 different projects with a combined generating potential of 320 megawatts. We believe this is the biggest solar programme completed in the UK to date.

“As a result of the impending Government subsidy changes, these projects had to be energised on key dates and we had to meet a strict deadline of March 31. Otherwise, they lost the subsidy.

“Inevitably with projects like this there is a time lag between getting the go-ahead and actually starting work. On several of them, we only started around November last year so we have actually delivered a lot of projects very quickly. That is an achievement in itself.”

SRC faced additional challenges because a number of its clients were overseas companies with limited experience of working in the UK.

“They were unfamiliar with UK health and safety legislation. That placed a significant liability on us to get it right. SRC had to provide a high level of support to ensure full compliance.

“They also utilised non-UK designers and a number of non-UK contractors to deliver the projects on-site who faced a steep learning curve about complying with UK legislation. We worked closely with them to make sure they were up to speed.”

Chris said he was proud of SRC’s exemplary record: “We faced significant challenges working with these partners in order to deliver something without a single reportable major incident.”

Reportable incidents are defined by the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013.

“Generally they are classed as any serious injury suffered at work that takes an employee away from their duties for a length of time,” explained Chris. “That could be a major laceration, broken bones, eye injuries or even an amputation.

“Dangerous occurrences are things like contact with high voltage electricity, flash-over burns and dropped heavy objects.”

The challenges SRC faced ranged from dealing with overhead electricity lines, high pressure gas mains and underground cables to working safely at the end of an active runway flight path.

“From my point of view, with some sites having more than 200 employees at any one time it was not significant risk but the risk was always there,” added Chris.

Established in 2010, SRC has a core team of experts who are working on projects throughout the country.

Although the company has an international reputation for its consultancy work on off-shore and green energy projects, SRC has more recently expanded its operations to all areas of the construction sector with new satellite offices in the Midlands and the North-West.