19 July 2007
Effective safety measures are vital to the well-being of all those involved in the electricity and gas supply industries. Importantly, these industries recognise that they have responsibility to not only protect members of the public from potential hazards, but also their own infrastructure assets.
NZS 7901 Electricity and gas industries – Safety management systems for public safety is currently being developed by representatives from the New Zealand electricity and gas supply industries to outline the principles for a safety management system. The Standard sets out guidelines on how to prevent serious harm to any member of the public or significant damage to public property from energy assets – this is in accordance with the requirements of the Electricity Amendment Act and the Gas Amendment Act 2006.
Peter Berry, Executive Director of Electricity Engineers’ Association says, ‘The development of this Standard reflects industry’s commitment to the effective management of public safety and the delivery of safe outcomes.’
‘It also recognises the importance of protecting the significant gas and electrical infrastructures that are held by both private and public interests. The industries already operate comprehensive safety management systems, which can also be used to document and manage public safety,’ says, Mr Berry.
The Standard takes a hazard and risk management approach – it requires hazards associated with the electricity generation, transmission, or distribution network, or gas distribution systems that present a risk of causing serious harm or significant damage to be systematically identified and the risk associated with each hazard assessed for the level of risk severity.
All practicable steps, in proportion to the assessed risk level, must then be taken to eliminate, isolate, or minimise each hazard throughout the life cycle of the asset. It is generally impossible to reduce the level of any risk to the point where it is non-existent, but risk can be reduced to an acceptable level by applying appropriate hazard controls.
The safety management system is required to be documented and its performance will be monitored to demonstrate that the levels of public and property safety achieved are improved over time.