Discuss High Voltage advice (11KV) in the Industrial Electrician Talk area at ElectriciansForums.net

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Hey all, looking for a bit of industrial electrical advice, I'm kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place at the moment, the company I work for are pressuring me to work on HV (11KV) against my will.
They put me through a 4 day AP (approved person HV) course and as I was the only person who didn't deliberately fail I have now been lumbered with all the building substation switching and permits etc. I'm switching RMU's under duress however they have a new large piece of HV equipment that has been connected to the HV supply (by a contractor not me!) that they want me to energize. This piece of equipment has been constructed abroad clearly to the lowest tender and in my mind is totally unsafe (exposed HV and LV in the same area ( a couple of feet apart, the LV is to be handled and terminated by people on a regular basses as they are essentially DC power leads for powering units under test) with access to this same area for servicing / repair to the electronics). The access to the area is via a hatch that has an interlock that has yet to be wired up, this will operate a HV shunt trip however the power for this is on a separate supply that if lost will make the interlock inoperable, if it does operate I'm not sure if there might be any residual voltage left on the incoming supply unless the RMU shunt trip earths the cables when it fires. Previous units have had all the nasty HV stuff in a separate sealed of area well away from anything low voltage, I have no issues with those.
I'm currently refusing to operate the isolator to this unit until the company get a qualified and competent HV engineer to sign it off as being safe.
I know I'm personally liable if anything goes wrong, I would put my notice in in a heartbeat but am too old and too stupid to get another job, I know if I power something up that I think is not safe I will rightly go to prison, hope this makes sense, haven't had a whole lot of sleep lately, what are peoples thoughts?
 

James

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You need to put your concerns down in writing (email is good) to your manager, expressing your concerns and the reasons you believe it is unsafe to energise.
if you are part of a union, it my be worth involving them.

depending on the size of the company, you may want to involve the health and safety manager as well.

do not allow yourself to be pressured into doing anything you believe could be dangerous but when refusing always confirm in writing why you object. And await the response.
 

timbobelfast

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Hey all, looking for a bit of industrial electrical advice, I'm kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place at the moment, the company I work for are pressuring me to work on HV (11KV) against my will.
They put me through a 4 day AP (approved person HV) course and as I was the only person who didn't deliberately fail I have now been lumbered with all the building substation switching and permits etc. I'm switching RMU's under duress however they have a new large piece of HV equipment that has been connected to the HV supply (by a contractor not me!) that they want me to energize. This piece of equipment has been constructed abroad clearly to the lowest tender and in my mind is totally unsafe (exposed HV and LV in the same area ( a couple of feet apart, the LV is to be handled and terminated by people on a regular basses as they are essentially DC power leads for powering units under test) with access to this same area for servicing / repair to the electronics). The access to the area is via a hatch that has an interlock that has yet to be wired up, this will operate a HV shunt trip however the power for this is on a separate supply that if lost will make the interlock inoperable, if it does operate I'm not sure if there might be any residual voltage left on the incoming supply unless the RMU shunt trip earths the cables when it fires. Previous units have had all the nasty HV stuff in a separate sealed of area well away from anything low voltage, I have no issues with those.
I'm currently refusing to operate the isolator to this unit until the company get a qualified and competent HV engineer to sign it off as being safe.
I know I'm personally liable if anything goes wrong, I would put my notice in in a heartbeat but am too old and too stupid to get another job, I know if I power something up that I think is not safe I will rightly go to prison, hope this makes sense, haven't had a whole lot of sleep lately, what are peoples thoughts?
Ask the gaffer for the HV switching plan, permit to work, risk assessment and scope of works. Chances are they will not be forth coming. What brand of RMU and switch gear are installed?
 

Lister1987

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Put your concerns in an email, cite the relevant parts of EAWR (and 29 as thr email will serve as your defence).

It would also be prudent to cite your protection from victimisation as a result of whistleblowing under the Employment Rights Act 1996 (as amended by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998).

You may find it useful involving a union or ACAS at thr earliest possible staging. Generally the minute you start citing legislation excerpts; the intended audience will sit up and listen as it demonstrates determination and a knowledge of rights; thiscsnhave a negative effect on trust however (thr employer may get the impression that the trust in the working relationship has eroded and using a sledgehammer to crack a nut - depends on how much BS you are OK with accepting.
 
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Ask the gaffer for the HV switching plan, permit to work, risk assessment and scope of works. Chances are they will not be forth coming. What brand of RMU and switch gear are installed?
Sadly all of that is down to me, somehow I'm the company SAP. I'm totaly on my own with this one, if I try and talk to any of the mangers all I get is 'I'm not technical, I dont understand what your saying' then they burry their heads back in the sand.
I think the RMU is a SF6 Schneider ring master.
Unfortuneatey the company is non union.
 

D Skelton

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I don't mean to be harsh but doing a four day AP course in no way makes you competent to deliver HV isolations or commission HV switchgear. I don't need to tell you this though because you're fully aware yourself.

What I don't understand though is why you're agreeing to even take on this work "under duress" as you put it. You've got to look out for yourself mate. By even getting involved in this you're in breach of the EAWR's and when it goes wrong it'll be you sat in court.

All the shoddy switchgear aside, you need a full and documented training and mentorship plan in place for the equipment you're being asked to operate and work on and should be working under the direct supervision of someone competent and experienced to work on that switchgear. How can you be asked to write a switching schedule for equipment you've never even operated? It takes years of experience to become an AP let alone a SAP.

If I were you I'd be outright refusing to continue any further until you're competent to do so. If your company takes punitive action against you as a result then you've got probably one of the easiest wrongful dismissal claims going!
 

David Prosser

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Join a union if your not in one, today. You can talk to them on the phone and they will give you the advice you need. Look online for one you think can help technically.
Just out of interest where did you do your AP course?
 

snowhead

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Who was doing the H.V work prior to you being sent on the A.P course, an "expensive contractor" by chance?

Who's idea was it to put YOU in for the A.P course?

If it was you employer who's advice did they take regarding selecting suitable candidates for the course?

Have you tried talking to whoever you did the A.P course with, I'm sure they'll confirm you shouldn't be working solely on your own with no other experience.
 
OP
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I'm looking for a union right now as its pretty much a given that I will be punished for not following orders, I'm trying to get out of the dreadful place anyhow.
The AP course was delivered onsite by a firm in York but in was during covid so we didn't get to practice on any switch gear, in fact my first time switching was last week standing very much alone in a switch room trying to work out how to get the RMU out of earth and praying that nothing further down the line was earthed out then closed my eyes and pulled the lever, pretty terrifying! I then had to repeat the exercise in a temporary substation standing 2 feet from a 2000KVA oil filled transformer in a steel box, I wasn't prepared for the amount of noise it made, I remember thing darker coloured underpants may have been wise. I was offered a couple of volunteers to help, I got them to stand well outside with the number for the fire brigade if it all went belly up. I was handed a single line diagram of the system that was full of mistakes, I didn't even realize I needed a switching plan, its about a year now since doing the Course.
My employer doesn't take advise, they are far too arrogant, they believe if I pass an HV coarse I can the make the HV terminations and save the company a fortune (that sure as hell isn't going to happen). They did it to me a few years back when I had to do an ATEX coarse, I told them until I was blue in the face that I'm not a qualified electrician but again it fell on deaf ears.
I'm trying to get in touch with the people who did the HV course.
You guys have been a huge help, it seemed what I was being asked to do didn't feel right now I know it absolutely isn't right.
 

D Skelton

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my first time switching was last week standing very much alone in a switch room trying to work out how to get the RMU out of earth and praying that nothing further down the line was earthed out then closed my eyes and pulled the lever

There are five things dangerously wrong with this sentence alone.

Your company need reporting to the HSE without delay. They're going to kill somebody!
 

snowhead

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in fact my first time switching was last week standing very much alone in a switch room trying to work out how to get the RMU out of earth and praying that nothing further down the line was earthed out then closed my eyes and pulled the lever, pretty terrifying! I then had to repeat the exercise in a temporary substation standing 2 feet from a 2000KVA oil filled transformer in a steel box,

This isn't scaremongering and IS meant to scare the Cr*p out of you,,
Do not pray that everything down the line is not longer earthed, BE ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN IT ISN'T.

I never did HV switching but over my last 25 yrs of work was present many times during switching for 11kv transformer replacements or tap changes by suitably trained and experienced contractors or maintenance on the network switches by local DNO.

I was not present at this incident but did visit the customers site afterwards.
A contractor for the DNO had been testing part of the local HV ring, his colleague was at the other end with the test box across the lines.
Somewhere along the way they got out of sequence (poor comms) and the guy at the customers end restored power to the section they had been testing.
The test box was still inline.
Statement from the contractor a few days later when he had calmed down enough to talk,,
I made the switch, I heard the rumble, I ran out of the substation, I remember waking up sometime later.
I beleive he suffered concussion and shock and probably never worked again

The door had been blown off the substation, the roof had been lifted and had landed back on the substation.
The contractor didn't get far out of the substation before being blown part way across the service yard., luckilly no moving vehicles and no obstructions for him to be thrown against.
 
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Petej999

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I'm looking for a union right now as its pretty much a given that I will be punished for not following orders, I'm trying to get out of the dreadful place anyhow.
The AP course was delivered onsite by a firm in York but in was during covid so we didn't get to practice on any switch gear, in fact my first time switching was last week standing very much alone in a switch room trying to work out how to get the RMU out of earth and praying that nothing further down the line was earthed out then closed my eyes and pulled the lever, pretty terrifying! I then had to repeat the exercise in a temporary substation standing 2 feet from a 2000KVA oil filled transformer in a steel box, I wasn't prepared for the amount of noise it made, I remember thing darker coloured underpants may have been wise. I was offered a couple of volunteers to help, I got them to stand well outside with the number for the fire brigade if it all went belly up. I was handed a single line diagram of the system that was full of mistakes, I didn't even realize I needed a switching plan, its about a year now since doing the Course.
My employer doesn't take advise, they are far too arrogant, they believe if I pass an HV coarse I can the make the HV terminations and save the company a fortune (that sure as hell isn't going to happen). They did it to me a few years back when I had to do an ATEX coarse, I told them until I was blue in the face that I'm not a qualified electrician but again it fell on deaf ears.
I'm trying to get in touch with the people who did the HV course.
You guys have been a huge help, it seemed what I was being asked to do didn't feel right now I know it absolutely isn't right.
PROSPECT I was a member until I retired, I sat the HV AP Course twice at DOE/RAF Cardington., don/t know if its still being held
 
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OK, union joined! I should have someone to fight my corner now. I'm going to try to keep well away from HV, It's not my back ground, I don't like it, I was never asked if I wanted to do it and I'm not confident or competent in it. They need to look at employing a professional as this is likely to be an ongoing thing.

I came within a hair of giving the HSE an anonymous tip off once before over another matter.

Edit. Found out my training certificate, is says 'Authorised Person High Voltage-operation & Safety', no idea why everyone is calling me an SAP!
 
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