How we won an award for helping a local council to meet the G39 Electrical Guidance.

Helping Suffolk County Council meet the G39 electrical guidance for street lighting maintenance has won Electrical Testing a highly commended award.

We were the UK’s first Independent Connection Provider (ICP) to be registered on Lloyd’s Register’s National Electricity Registration Scheme (NERS) and health and safety lies at the core of everything we do. Protecting our own employees is paramount to us, but we’re equally committed to making life safer for all those workers across the UK’s local authorities that have to continue operations when our work is done.

We are therefore proud to have recently been Highly Commended by the HEA for a pilot scheme we implemented with Suffolk County Council to address street lighting safety.

To give you a flavour of our approach to health and safety, and to give you a glimpse into why the HEA highly commended us for our work with Suffolk County Council, we’d like to share with you our journey – from getting under the skin of the problem right through to solving it.

Understanding the problem in light of G39 guidance.

To give you some context, it’s important to keep in mind that according to the G39 guidance, pole brackets bolted to street light columns and positioned less than 1m from overhead lines are deemed unsafe for general operatives to attend. Any necessary work to remedy this must be undertaken.

Why was this particularly relevant to our work with Suffolk County Council? Well, due to accepted historical practices, a percentage of their street lights failed to meet the criteria, being positioned under the recommended 1m distance.

Adding a layer of complexity and urgency to the problem, the full portfolio of street lights were mounted to wooden poles: maintenance was becoming an urgent concern.

Suffolk County Council’s 2-week aim to repair faulty street lights is very much in the public domain, as is the priority they give to making dangerous faults safe within 2 hours, where possible. So pressure was mounting for this diligent authority to address the issue quickly, safely and in accordance with Statutory requirements.

But the problem was multi-layered.

In alignment with the G39 guidance, Suffolk County Council’s general operatives were prohibited from maintaining the streetlights – something that is felt by all such councils across the UK. As a result:

areas of the county were left without street lighting.
ageing wooden columns, vulnerable to the elements, were in danger of becoming unsafe.
the council was increasingly at risk of not being able to meet repair work expectations on time.
general operational workers were not able to work to full capacity as jobs were left ‘untouched’, impacting negatively on the council’s operational efficiencies and costs  .


Gaining ICP registration with Lloyd\’s Register\’s NERS scheme.

Having identified the problem, we set out to achieve registration under Lloyd\’s Register\’s NERS scheme in order to gain the ability to work within the 1 metre distance safely.

This is not something you can accomplish overnight. In fact, achieving registration took about six months and involved:

– new training for ETL staff

the application of new safety management systems

an additional assessment of site/craft staff to comply with the requirements of Lloyds NERS scheme.

Through our above-and-beyond approach to solving this problem, we were proud to become the UK’s first ICP under the Lloyd’s Register’s NERS scheme.

Armed with outstanding skills, experience and now the crucial accreditation, we set to work on implementing the pilot scheme with Suffolk County Council to maintain all their street lights, including the street lights deemed to be less than 1m from the overheads.

What did the work involve?

We initially deployed a two-man MEWP team, including a linesman and mate, to carry out the work.


Following close monitoring of the pilot project’s status, and with the necessary training given to additional ETL staff, a second two-man team has since engaged in the work to ensure timely and above-satisfactory results are delivered.

To date we have attended more than 20 per cent of pole brackets, the majority of which were previously deemed unsafe according to the 1m regulation. These are now a safe distance from the low voltage overhead lines.

In terms of the full project length, from identifying the problem to full implementation of the solution, we estimate that it will take 12-14 months.

Who has benefited and how?

The benefits of the initiative have been three-fold, having positively impacted on the safety of human life, the needs of the local authority in question, and our own market position.

1. Our work with Suffolk County Council has made life safer for everyone, with general operational workers at the council now in a position to carry out maintenance safely
2. The pressure on Suffolk County Council to meet its repair-time goals has been alleviated
3. From a business perspective, our success in this project will enable us to penetrate new markets and increase turnover with profit

So what’s next?

By the end of the project we are confident that all street lights within the Suffolk County Council domain will have been maintained and stock future-proofed from a safety perspective.

Responsibility to ensure statutory requirements and acceptable standards are met lies at the feet of local authorities. With this in mind, our forward-looking objective is to present our solution to local authorities throughout England and Scotland to enable them to meet such statutory requirements and make subsequent work safe for general operatives that follow behind them.

This UK-first solution we have delivered has clearly shown the possibilities available for all local authorities suffering from similar problems. Where misunderstanding of the regulations by local authorities may have previously led to potentially hazardous conditions for general operational workers, there’s now an evidenced and effective solution at their fingertips to solve the problem, with the safety of their workers front of mind.

As a result of our successful pilot scheme with Suffolk County Council, we now have a template to demonstrate how the work can be carried out for other local authorities, highlighting the benefits that can be achieved.

But it’s important to remember that every local authority’s street lighting problems are unique, and so we will be adapting it in a bespoke way to satisfy any variations on region-specific pole specifications.

We will continue to evolve the initiative so we can deliver best service, achieve efficient and optimum results, and make any subsequent work safe for all.