Safety Factors to Consider for Substation Accessibility

Safety Factors to Consider for Substation Accessibility

Substations are potentially high-risk environments with a unique set of threats often hidden from the untrained eye. One step in the wrong direction can bring people too close to live equipment, an accidental stretch of an arm flipping a control switch can bring the entire facility to a grinding halt, or a dropped wrench can trigger an explosion. There are simply so many ways in which things can go wrong. These not only cause damage to assets and infrastructure but also compromise the safety and lives of personnel, apart from interrupting power transmission or distribution. Monitoring and controlling access right from the perimeter of the premises to the different structures and buildings as well as areas within them is imperative to ensure safe navigation. Continue reading

Safety Practices in Substations

Safety Practices in Substations

Safety procedures formulated to meet requirements outlined in NESC and other standards go a long way in making substations more secure against known hazards and triggers. Considering the fact that the entire premise is rife with potential electrical and chemical hazards, even the slightest negligence can prove damaging. Careful analysis of general and location-specific risks factors is a must to draft a comprehensive safety routine. That done, regular training and communication is crucial to ensure that the safety norms are followed without any slip-ups.

Substation Safety – Best Practices

While most of the safety practices stem out of common sense and practical learning, some potential problem areas may skip attention. Let’s take a look at some of the important safety measures that can minimise high-risk security threats commonly encountered in substations.

Securing Perimeter Area

Minimising safety threats from the outside environment is a key concern that needs attention. Installing metallic or non-metallic fences along the perimeter is bound to prevent incidents of trespassing, deliberate scaling, stray animals foraying into the premises, and more importantly, children gaining entry into the area. Washouts and structural damage to enclosures require prompt attention. Use of appropriate warning signs on the fencing is recommended.

NESC requires such enclosures to be seven feet or more in height, and permits use of both fencing material and strands of barbed wire (three or more) to achieve this height. NESC also emphasises the need for sturdy temporary fencing, in case the permanent structures require extensions or repairs.

Restricting or Prohibiting Visitor Access

Substations are not intended to support visitor traffic. It is possible to prevent or reduce the possibility of accidents by either restricting or totally prohibiting visitors from entering the place. In unavoidable circumstances, visitors accompanied by experienced personnel can be allowed access, but with the necessary safety precautions and PPE.

Monitoring/ Guiding Vehicular Traffic

It is important to monitor and guide vehicles entering a substation to ensure that there is sufficient clearance between objects on the roof of the vehicle and the overhead lines and elevated equipment within the substation. Vehicle drivers must proactively ensure safe navigation as well.

Similarly, the operations of mobile hoisting equipment and cranes also need to be supervised and controlled by substation personnel.

Prohibiting Equipment Storage

Substations also tend to double up as storage for equipment and other material that find use in the environment, leading to at least a couple of unwarranted risks. It not only increases footfall in the area as materials get shifted in and out of the facility, but also lures thieves on the lookout for expensive electrical components/ equipment. Not everyone entering the substation in such cases are fully aware of the dangers they are exposed to and accidents that they can accidentally trigger. Prohibiting equipment storage in substations can prevent undue accidents.

Securing Battery Stores

Battery storage rooms are also known to be the sources of chemical hazards, and are best secured with authorised access. While it is important to ensure the storage areas are well-ventilated, regular maintenance helps detect units that need replacements, recharging or address gas, caustic or acid leaks common in batteries.

Providing PPEs

Use of PPEs is mandatory when working in a substation. Flame retardant/ arc-rated/ chemical resistant clothing, gloves, safety glasses, shields, face masks, hard hats, and steel-toed shoes must be an integral part of the PPE collection made available for workers.

The infrastructure on the other hand must house gas detectors, scaffoldings, and rescue equipment to assure the safety of the occupants.

Training Personnel

Training is one of the most important safety practices, without which all other safety measures remain ineffective. Safety training must ensure that substation personnel:

  • Understand the safety threats that abound in the work environment.
  • Appreciate the importance of PPE, use and maintain each piece in a proper manner.
  • Know how each equipment functions, what parts are energised and what voltages, clearance requirements, risk involved and levels of protection are required to work on the equipment.
  • Be cautious even when around de-energised equipment.
  • Conduct routine inspections to ensure that the area and equipment are safe for use prior to each task.
  • Maintain the prescribed clearance from each type of equipment, and handle operations remotely if the option is available.
  • Use suitable protective clothing and equipment as warranted by the severity of the risk involved in each task.

Installing Security Equipment

Despite the best of precautions and practices, there is always a possibility of security breach. Installing security equipment such as cameras and motion sensors in vantage points not only help deter or thwart unauthorised access and break-ins, but also track the movement of personnel and equipment to ensure safe operations and maintenance. It also pays to keep potential high-risk zones brightly illuminated.

With safety practices in place and training conducted, it is the responsibility of each worker to strictly adhere to safety norms to first protect themselves and keep a watch out for their co-workers as well. Safety practices, however, will need to be regularly reviewed and refined not only to improve their effectiveness but also whenever there is a change in infrastructure or operating conditions.

For more information please contact us on 057 886 2162 or by e-mail at

New: V-Watch Personal Voltage Detectors

Announcing the release of the new V-Watch Personal Voltage Detectors, now available on

V-Watch Personal Voltage Detectors – It can save your life. It’s that simple.


Worn on the outside of your clothing at mid-torso, the V-Watch® provides that extra level of safety by detecting and alerting you to the presence of electric fields or energized electrical equipment surrounding high voltage electrical systems. In emergencies, crews can move in safety to quickly restore power. It is available in two versions – Standard and Pro. The Pro version allows comes with a mute feature. Each model comes in a tough nylon carrying case lanyard that is worn around the neck during use. Continue reading

Arc Flash and Isolation Safety Conference 9th and 10th June

ArcFlash_Conference, a division of Powerpoint Engineering, are delighted to announce that we will be presenting at the Arc Flash and Isolation Safety Conference on the 9th and 10th June 2015, at the Marriott Hotel, Victoria & Albert, Manchester, UK.

Arc flash is a topical issue in the electrical engineering community as many people in the UK receive severe and debilitating burns each year. Technology and safety procedures have significantly reduced most other forms of electrical injuries; however incidents related to arc flash have surfaced as one of Continue reading

Wind Skillnet and Powerpoint Engineering Wind Farm Training

Powerpoint Engineering are delighted to bring you to Wind Skillnet and the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) 1 day training workshop where a dedicated training in the areas of Insulating Oil Analysis and Partial Discharge Testing will be held.

The course is targeted for Wind Farms environment and employees. The cost is €244 for members of IWEA and €350 for non-members and is payable directly to IWEA.

Training will be held on October 15th 2014 (Wednesday) from 9.00 am to 4.30 pm and will be held at IWEA Head Offices (Sycamore House, Millenium Park, Osberstown, Naas, Co. Kildare). Continue reading

Insulating Oil Analysis, Arc Flash Hazards & Protection Seminar – Thursday 13th March

Powerpoint Engineering Ltd are proud to host an Insulating Oil Analysis, Arc Flash Hazards & Protection Seminar. This seminar which will provide you with informative, expert and practical advice on Insulating Oil Analysis, Arc Flash Clothing, Arc Flash Hazards and Arc Flash Protection from our guest speakers who are experts in the industry.

Attendance at the Seminar is FREE. The seminar will take place at the Maldron Hotel, Portlaoise (Exit 17 off M7) on 13th March 2014 (Thursday). Places are limited so if you would like to attend please contact us via email on and we will confirm your place.
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