Summary of the NZS 7901 scoping workshop held on 6 March 2013

Issue 49 – May 2013

In 2012, Energy Safety, part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), engaged Standards New Zealand to undertake a review of NZS 7901:2008 Electricity and gas Industries – Safety management systems for public safety.

It was anticipated that once the electrical and gas industries had implemented NZS 7901 as part of the auditing of safety management systems in 2012, some issues would have been raised and a review of NZS 7901 would be required. However, since timing of the auditing requirements on the gas sector was slightly behind those of the electricity sector, there was less experience from the use of the Standard by the gas sector to draw on. Energy Safety agreed to delay the review of NZS 7901 until more feedback was available on its use by both the electricity and gas sectors.

As a preliminary step, it was agreed instead to hold a scoping workshop on 6 March 2013. The purpose of the scoping workshop was to enable key stakeholders to identify and discuss any changes needed to the Standard.

The scoping workshop participants included 14 representatives from a range of stakeholder organisations including electricity and gas supply industries, certification bodies, regulators, consumers, and consultants. The workshop was chaired by Peter Berry, Executive Director of the Electricity Engineers' Association (EEA).

Key findings of the scoping workshop are as follows.

  • The structure and style of NZS 7901 needs to be revised to bring it into line with ISO Standards.

  • The scope of NZS 7901 needs to be re-examined and, where appropriate, aligned with AS5577 Energy safety systems for the electricity supply industry, which is in its final stages of development.

  • Responsibilities and qualifications of those carrying out internal audit and self-assessment processes need to be clarified.

  • Energy Safety (MBIE) is not considering changes to the Gas (Safety Measurement) Regulations 2010 in relation to NZS 7901 while the gas sector is still in the process of completing its first audits.

  • The development of key performance indicators (KPIs) is still a work in progress for MBIE. EEA has developed some industry KPIs for public safety management systems (PSMSs). Reference to KPIs in NZS 7901 needs to be improved.

  • References in NZS 7901 to Standards and handbooks need to be updated, as do definitions that should align with relevant ISO Standards.

  • NZS 7901 should clarify the leadership responsibilities of boards and senior management within gas and electricity supply industries to ensure PSMSs are integrated with other management systems, and improve awareness and effectiveness of PSMSs.

  • The review should consider structural and legislative changes that are expected in the health and safety area, and acknowledge the different obligations that exist under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, the Electricity Act 1992, and the Gas Act 1992.

  • The review should clarify the risk/hazard approach of the Standard, and align references to risk management with definitions and principles in AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 Risk management – Principles and guidelines.

The timeline for the review of NZS 7901 is uncertain at this stage. A review in 2013/14 will depend on resourcing and other priorities.

Once the committee has been established to review NZS 7901, Standards New Zealand will provide a report on the scoping workshop to the NZS 7901 committee to consider.

 

Published in energy.

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