Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Temporary Power in Hostile Environments

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. 

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 organized crime, theft, assault and hostage taking. When deploying professionals in such a context, it is essential for companies to provide safety alerts and travel tips, hostile environment training, country specific briefing and familiarization 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 recognized security agencies and conducting 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. With security situations volatile, 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 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.


*The foregoing article was based on what was originally published in the December issue of Energize magazine, EE Publishers, South Africa.*


Altaaqa Global's initiative, titled "Providing Adequate Security in Hostile Environments" has been recognized as the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Initiative of the Year at the MEP Middle East Awards 2014, and has been named among the finalists at the Middle East Electricity (MEE) Awards 2015.

Majid Zahid, Strategic Accounts Director of Altaaqa Global, and Meghana Millin, the company's HSE Officer,
receives the award for HSE Initiative of the Year.

Robert Bagatsing
Altaaqa Global
Tel: +971 56 1749505

Altaaqa Global
Marketing Department
P.O. Box 262989
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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