Overhead Cabling in Exchanges

A new BT ISIS SFY/GRA/E013 was published in June 2009 following concerns about overhead cabling activities in Telephone Exchanges. 

In recent times, most of this work has been done by contractors and in some cases without due regard to their own or others safety. In particular there have been several instances of disregard of the Work at Height Regulations (2005), in particular the “3 points of contact”, with them often standing right at the top of steps and even crawling or even walking along the cable runways not designed to support their weight.

With the current recession, work of this nature may well be done by direct-labour staff replacing contractors.

The new ISIS is the Generic Risk Assessment, covering both BT and Agency or Contractors, outlining what the accepted general standard should be and anyone found not complying should be advised to stop work immediately and leave site, until such time as they can comply with BT standards. This should include not only any access equipment used but also any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), both to be provided by their employer.

There may well be instances at all sites where there needs to be a Local Risk Assessment, which should be performed by a competent person, the significant findings of which should be recorded and that is a managerial responsibility. If this work in being performed by contractors, it should form part of their method statement.

An on-site Risk Assessment (or hazard check) should be conducted by the individual prior to starting work and continually whilst performing the work, as circumstances may change. If this finds anything either not covered by the ISIS (or Method Statement) and the supplementary written site-specific local risk assessment, then they should stop work and contact their manager so that these risks are evaluated and included an updated written assessment.



Barry Gapes
HSE Officer

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