Temporary power in hostile environments

November 17th, 2014, Published in Articles: Energize


Temporary power providers are familiar with working in hostile environments despite the trials that such locations present. They accept the challenge of operating in countries where the political, economic, social and security systems are fragile.

Meghana Millin

Meghana Millin

The temporary power industry is no stranger to hostile environments. Lack of infrastructure drives the demand for temporary power.  Operating in such hostile environments increases the temporary power provider’s duty of care. A hostile environment is generally defined as an unstable and insecure environment, where periods of unrest are caused by uncontrolled elements making the host country or the settlement an environment of conflict and unsafe operation. In such environments, workers may encounter risks, such as the presence of organised crime, theft, assault and hostage taking. When deploying professionals into such a context, it is essential for companies to provide safety alerts and travel tips, hostile environment training, country specific briefing and familiarisation prior to travel, and a face-to-face consultation to clarify questions that employees may have in relation to the assignment.

Mitigating the risks

The hazards of any particular project should be identified at the outset, prior to bidding and through a comprehensive risk assessment.  This may involve hiring local or internationally recognised security agencies and conducting a site-specific risk assessment to identify the particular security requirements of the project site. The findings from the assessment will determine the extent of the security measures required to keep employees safe and the power plant generating the required power. When the risk level has been determined, safety and security control measures are put in place. The security measures may include using armoured vehicles along with close protection officers to transport employees. A detailed emergency evacuation plan should be drawn up and tested to ensure operational suitability. In volatile security situations, all personnel should be provided with daily security briefings. In worst-case scenarios, companies should be prepared with life, kidnap and ransom insurance policies.

Business continuity can be supported by engaging the services of locals where possible. In addition to supporting the company’s in-house staff members and ensuring that heath, safety and the environment (HSE) standards are maintained throughout the project, local work force professionals provide specific operational knowledge and experience that are invaluable to the safe and peaceful completion of projects in hostile locations.

Benefits of duty of care towards workforce and subcontractors

Staff deployed to hostile environments are the backbone of the project; without them, the project cannot be delivered. Having a robust safety and security plan in place will provide the employees with the confidence to perform their jobs.

Staff should be provided with country-specific information and security briefings before travel to help reduce tension. After all the relevant information and situational assessment have been laid out, the choice of either accepting or declining the project should be freely given to those nominated for the project.

It is the aim of a temporary power service provider to offer uninterrupted and dependable service even in times of natural calamities, and political and security uncertainty. Business continuity planning considers the security of direct employees and subcontractors.

On hostility and safety

In many situations, accepting a project in a hostile environment is a necessary premise of providing emergency electricity services. These challenges provide opportunities to temporary power providers. Having a robust HSE plan that provides the necessary security to the people who operate and maintain the plant allows these companies to mitigate their risk to some extent. When employee safety takes precedence over equipment, it becomes easy to consider and to give staff security higher priority than profit generation. With business continuity plans in place, working in hostile environments can be made less daunting. The safety of our industry professionals should not be sacrificed, and formulating an HSE initiative should not be an after-thought. As companies, and their employees work in hostile environments, the duty of care through providing appropriate training and physical security becomes an integral part of the business operation.

Contact Robert Bagatsing, Altaaqa Global, rbagatsing@altaaqaglobal.com


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