On the day that restrictions are relaxed across England, and with the rest of the UK easing their own COVID-19 policies, the UK’s energy industry remains cautious of ongoing risks and is committed to minimising them throughout the pandemic.
Due to ongoing concerns about the direct and indirect risks of COVID-19 across the energy industry, energy companies will continue with their well-established COVID protocols. These include controls, risk assessments and changes planned, where appropriate to maintain the record of protecting colleagues and customers throughout the pandemic.
From the outset of COVID-19, Energy Networks Association and Energy UK members have developed and adopted safe working practices in consultation with colleagues, contractors and trade unions (GMB, Prospect, Unison and Unite) that have kept staff and customers safe. As restrictions begin to ease these member companies and trade unions are today reaffirming their commitment to the health and wellbeing of colleagues and customers.
Whilst the lifting of restrictions is a significant step along the road toward the ‘new normal’, COVID-19 remains an ongoing risk which needs to be managed with caution. To this end ENA and Energy UK member companies, trade unions and National HESAC (Health and Safety Committee for the Electricity Sector) will continue to work collaboratively to build upon the health and safety best practice already in place across the industry.
ENA and Energy UK member companies will work with their trade union colleagues to plan return-to-work environments for all staff wherever appropriate. They will ensure that all colleagues and trade union safety representatives are consulted to ensure they are aware of any COVID related changes made to company policies and procedures, as COVID rules change.
Member companies will continue to apply Government advice and, where practicable, enhance this by:
- Supporting the continued wearing of face coverings when company safety rules require them.
- Ensuring that social distancing and good hygiene controls remain at the forefront of all that we do.
With case numbers rising, ENA and Energy UK member companies will review and update existing COVID-19 risk assessments, working alongside trade union health and safety representatives. Any changes to the assessments will be transparently and accessibly shared with staff, contractors and electricity industry colleagues.
We will continue to support all colleagues to ensure they are able to maintain a safe and healthy lifestyle both at work and when working from home.
Audrey Gallacher, Energy UK’s Deputy Chief Executive, said:
“Although the lifting of restrictions is very welcome for millions of people, the increase in contact and consequent infection rates means that it is certainly not time to let our guard down. Customers can be assured that all parts of our industry will continue to work closely together to do everything possible to protect their wellbeing – and those of our staff.”
David Smith, Chief Executive of Energy Networks Association which represents the UK and Ireland’s energy network businesses said:
“Keeping the lights on and gas flowing whilst keeping our staff and customers safe are the fundamental principles upon which our industry is built, principles which we have maintained throughout the pandemic. Whilst some industries are at the vanguard of restriction easing, we are confident in our more cautious approach until Covid is firmly under control”.
Sue Ferns, Senior Deputy General Secretary of Prospect said:
“By working together unions and companies have ensured effective COVID controls. We recognise the dedication and hard work of colleagues across the sector that has ensured that we have minimised risk to date, and applaud the work of union health and safety representatives. As shown by rising self-isolation rates, there is a need for continued vigilance. It is important to maintain COVID controls until they are eased as part of an agreed and phased plan.”