COVID-19 Case Studies: Power stations and energy distribution 

Introduction

The following case study sets out the approach to manage the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic taken by a civil nuclear installation in the UK power sector:

Purpose

Two key objectives were considered in the development of revised operating requirements for the site:

  1. Protection of personnel
  2. Protection of plant.

This effort was coordinated by a site management team made up of key operations managers including all the site emergency controllers.

Application to site personnel

For operational personnel, a number of measures were taken as follows:

  • Laptops were identified as being key equipment and were issued to approximately half the total work force which they needed to be able to effectively work remotely. The timing was convenient as the site had just commenced a transition of computers to Windows10 so had a good stock available.
  • Initially group phone arrangements were set up, followed by the increased use of MS Teams over a 3-4 week transition period.
  • As time moved on, it was recognised that home working was difficult for some staff, so arrangements were made for specialised office equipment, i.e. chairs, desks etc, to be delivered to homes.
  • For all staff, including those with laptops, a Netpresenter phone App was installed to allow regular updates and information to all. This included attending a 5-10 minute weekly video message given by the Managing Director.
  • The site Occupational Health Department staff enhanced their mental health support and carried additional calls to staff they were already supporting.
    • Impact on the local community

      It was recognised that the company has a big influence on, and therefore has a major responsibility to, the local community - being the direct employer of nearly 10% of the local population. Tradespeople were provided to support the transformation of local authority facilities such as health centres etc. to make them COVID compliant in accordance with recommended government guidelines, i.e. desk screens, Portakabin waiting rooms, etc.

      Where opportunities were identified to release PPE, e.g. coveralls and masks, these items were passed on to the NHS.

      Application to plant operations

      With regard to plant, it was desirable to put it into a safe state for minimum staffing.

      Each facility manager shutdown their plant and reviewed the maintenance schedule to determine the minimum that was required and what could be suspended. A short term reduced regulatory monitoring and reporting regime to reduce onsite personnel requirements.  One day a week was then designated as a maintenance day when necessary minimum inspection and maintenance was carried out.

      Based upon the performed review, 2m distancing arrangements and one-way systems were put in place for all operational equipment and plant with face coverings provided to all operating staff.  Access to plant was restricted until these provisions had been put in place.

      Furthermore, key operational groups were identified and placed into protected ‘bubbles’ to ensure retention of resilience. Onsite staff numbers were gradually enhanced as precautions were put in place to achieve approximately 40% site staffing compared with pre-COVID operations. Home working remains the norm for all office workers who can work that way.

      Key learnings

      Key learnings from this power sector case study are:

      • Staff who could work remotely were supported to do so requiring the roll-out of the, largely IT-related, infrastructure needed to support such activity.
      • Onsite trades persons were redeployed to support the transformation of local community facilities to be compliant with government guidelines on COVID-19.
      • Arrangements were put in place to develop minimum staffing arrangements, distancing arrangements, one way systems and other safe working measures for equipment and plant operations. This included development of protected ‘bubbles‘ of groups of operational staff to provide resilience.
COVID-19 Task Force

Author

Grant Spence

Coronavirus

COVID-19 Task Force

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