Recommendation R20010205

Recommendation issued to: The Electrical Supply Association of Australia (ESAA)

Recommendation details
Output No: R20010205
Date issued: 26 February 2002
Safety action status:
Background: Why this Recommendation was developed

Output text

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that Electricity Supply Association of Australia (ESAA) in conjunction with its members and in consultation with helicopter operators identified as successful tenderers for low level power line survey work, adopt or purchase an acceptable training package to be undertaken by any power supply company employees prior to tasking on helicopter power line inspection. This training package should include but not be limited to:

Safety hazards when working in and around helicopters
In flight communication procedures including crew resource management (CRM)
CRM to include hazard identification and crew alerting procedures
Identification of fatigue in the workplace
Re-currency training if appropriate.

Initial response
Date issued: 17 April 2002
Response from: The Electrical Supply Association of Australia (ESAA)
Action status: Monitor
Response text:

We refer to the revised copy of the Air Safety Occurrence Report

200100252 which was forwarded to us on 28 February 2002.

We note the final recommendations made in this report, in particular R20010204, R20010205, RR20010206 and R20010207 ("the Recommendations"). We advise that the Recommendations, as currently worded, could be misleading as to the role the Electricity Supply Association of Australia ("ESAA") has within the Electricity Supply Industry, its powers and capabilities.

We appreciate that this report is finalised but in light of the Recommendations, we believe it is necessary to:

Clarify the powers of ESAA;

Clarify the role of ESAA within the Electricity Supply Industry; and

Formally bring to your attention the capability of ESAA in acting on the Recommendations.

ESAA's Role

ESAA is a representative and advisory body. Its members are public and privately owned businesses involved in the generation, transmission, distribution and supply of electricity in Australia. Its mission is to represent the interests of those electricity businesses in an open electricity market.

ESAA is not a regulatory body and has no powers to enforce its advice to its members. It does, however, play a role in providing its members with relevant information. This includes drafting guidelines relating to safety issues in the electricity supply industry., It is in this context that ESAA in August 1995 developed guidelines for the use of helicopters for live line work.

Consistent with ESAA's role as a representative and advisory body, members of ESAA are not bound in any way to accept the contents of ESAA guidelines for inclusion in their work practices or procedures. ESAA works closely with its members in developing guidelines on safety issues, but ultimately whether or not members adopt any particular work practices or procedures is a matter for them to decide having regard to the relevant issues facing their business.

Further Action by ESAA

It is important to emphasise that ESAA cannot enforce any of the Recommendations with its members or be compelled to enforce them. Neither can ESAA require any of its members to take any action in connection with the steps that ESAA may decide to take to assist the ATSB in implementing the Recommendations.

In the context of the comments made above, we advise that ESAA is able to take the action detailed below to assist the ATSB in achieving the Recommendations.

1. R20010204,20010205 and 20010207

ESAA will address the content of these three recommendations as follows:

ESAA has a National Electricity Network Steering Committee, which as part of its activities develops national guidelines and codes for the electricity supply industry. This body has been consulted and has agreed to set up a national working group to develop a guideline for " The use of Helicopters for low level power line inspection and maintenance work." The scope of the working group 's task will be to develop a guideline which takes into account but is not limited to the following issues:

1] Safety hazards when working in and around helicopters.

2) In-flight communication procedures which include crew resource management (CRM), hazard identification and crew alerting procedures.

3) Personnel selection training - including medical tests ie. Eye tests.

4) Identification of fatigue in the workplace

5) Re-currency training.

Other aspects to be considered, include - minimum standards and responsibilities, work procedures, the selection of the helicopter and equipment, approach distances, general work practice and work considerations ie. Weather, work team communications, public safety and line hazard identification and also procedures in the event of an incident.

ESAA has already gathered a range of materials from its members dealing With the above and expects that the guidelines proposed can be developed within 12 months. As with all such guidelines ESAA members are free to decide whether or not to adopt them in their work practices or procedures.

In addition to the above, ESAA will ensure that the Report as it is described on the ATSB web-site is distributed to each of its members.

ATSB response:

The following response was sent to the ESAA on 02 December 2002:

Dear Sir,

Thank you for the letter dated 15 April 2002 , in response to our recommendations arising from Occurrence Report 200100252, a fatal helicopter accident in Bencubbin Western Australia.

In a meeting between the ATSB and you in Canberra on the 23 October 2001, the ESAA's role within the electrical industry was explained in detail to us. While we understood that our recommendations could not be given any power of enforcement by the ESAA, it was nevertheless considered that the best method of dissemination of these recommendations to the industry was through the ESAA and its subcommittees. This was also true of any later coordination, by the National Electricity Network Steering Committee, of effort to respond on an industry wide basis.

For these reasons, the ESAA was considered ideally situated to assist in the promotion of our common goal of a safer industry work environment for both the aviation and the electrical industry personnel involved in these low level-flying tasks.

We thank you for your efforts in this regard and look forward to the development over the coming months of the guidelines alluded to in your letter. Hopefully, with industry wide participation in their formulation, it may be that industry wide voluntary adoption of these guidelines will merely be a formality.

I would be pleased if you could keep the ATSB informed as to the progress of these activities. To this end, if not contacted sooner, I would like to correspond with you further on these matters at the end of your proposed development period, that is around April 2003.

If you have any queries please contact Investigator in Charge.
Yours faithfully,

Safety Investigations
02 December 2002

The following is a copy of the follow up letter to the ESAA dated 23rd April 2003:

Dear Sir,
On Friday 11th April 2003, the West Australian Deputy Coroner handed down her findings into the deaths of Western Power Corporation employee and Preston Helicopter pilot, who died in the helicopter power line strike accident at Bencubbin in January 200 1. In her findings, she made several recommendations with regard to Wire Strike Protection System (WSPS) fitment to helicopters engaged in low level flight, power pole marking in a cross-country background and power company personnel training m workplace hazard identification.

This tragic event also generated several safety recommendations issued by the ATSB to the ESAA which have been under consideration by an ESAA National Electricity Network Steering Committee (NENSC) for this past year. As I alluded to in my previous communication of 02 December last year, I am now corresponding to inquire as to the progress of the NENSC at the passing of this twelve-month development period.

The investigator in charge (IIC) of this accident has also been in communication with a member of the NENSC working group in Brisbane, and understands much valuable work has been accomplished on the draft of a new ESAA document 'National Guidelines for Aerial Surveillance of Overhead Electricity Networks" (AS), of which a copy was kindly supplied. The IIC has, in turn, provided a copy of the Coroner's findings and recommendations arising from her inquiry.

I understand the draft AS document dated 24 February 2003 is close to its final form and addresses many of the ATSB recommendations directed to the ESAA. When ratified, this document will be a significant safety tool to enhance AS flight operations throughout Australia

Could you please advise the ATSB of ESAA's expected timetable for ratification and industry adoption of this document? It would also be appreciated if a copy of the accepted document in its final form could be forwarded to the ATSB for inclusion on the file. This information will enable the responsible IIC to close the relevant ESAA safety recommendations and finalise the investigation.

If you have any queries please contact the IIC.

Yours sincerely

Last update 01 April 2011