Safer infrastructure works promoted in Moldova

29 September 2015

New equipment will help Moldovan excavation workers manage risks of digging near underground electric cables during urban infrastructure works.

Moldova visit 2015

 The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has partnered with several UK-based organisations, including the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH),  to deliver free of charge cable location devices (or CATs) to Moldova and provide training on its use.

Derran Williams, Principal Health and Safety Advisor at the EBRD, said: “While construction companies in Moldova are aware of cable location devices which help avoid damage to electricity cables and increase workers’ safety, they cannot afford it due to the significant cost and therefore continue to run a high risk of cable strikes. This donation of CATs, supported by so many partners in the United Kingdom and Moldova, will introduce best occupational safety practices which we hope will soon become a norm in Moldova.”

Infrastructure rehabilitation projects such as improvements of water and wastewater networks often involve ground disturbances in urban areas, where live electrical services are present below ground. Unsafe digging exposes workers and third parties to the risk of fire, electrocutions and major service interruptions. These can also have fatal consequences.

The UK company Gap Hire Solutions, a specialist in hiring equipment to the construction, maintenance and utilities sectors, has donated ten CATs to be used during excavation works in the course of EBRD municipal projects in Moldova.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), a British chartered body for health and safety professionals, in partnership with SHB, a vehicle hire and management company, has arranged for the equipment to be transported to Moldova. SHB has donated a 3.5-tonnes van to carry the CATs and IOSH has provided funding for the fuel and ferry and rail crossings.

Ian Harper,  a Chartered Fellow of IOSH and occupational safety professional, and Alex Hitch, Health and Safety Manager at Kier Construction, volunteered to drive the equipment from the UK to Moldova and train local workers on how to use it. The two-day training which started today (Tuesday 29 September) was hosted by the electricity distribution company Gas Natural Fenosa.

Ian Harper said: “It’s a piece of work which brings together the skills of people who want to volunteer their time and ability with organisations that want to have a positive effect on the world and communities they live and work in. The EBRD gives us the opportunity to match what we are offering with what is needed in Moldova. In the future, we aspire to do more in different industries and places and little by little make the world a better, safer and more sustainable place.”

Shelley Frost, IOSH Executive Director of Policy, said: “We are delighted to co-sponsor this project which will transport the key equipment, provide training to the water operators and the electrical distribution workers in the use and maintenance of CATs and also share knowledge on best practices. This will promote good health and safety standards and practices and introduce life-saving technology to utilities workers in Moldova.”

The EBRD has also mobilised support among the civil society organisations Automobile Club of Moldova and the UK-based Eastern Alliance for Sustainable and Safe Transport.

The EBRD is the largest institutional investor in Moldova, where it focuses on supporting private sector activity, promoting European standards and regional integration and developing efficient, sustainable public utilities. To date, the Bank has invested almost €1 billion in more than 100 projects.

IOSH is the Chartered body for health and safety professionals. With 44,000 members in 100 countries, it’s the world’s biggest professional health and safety organisation. It sets standards, and supports, develops and connects its members with resources, guidance, events and training. It is the voice of the profession, and campaigns on issues that affect millions of working people. IOSH was founded in 1945 and is a registered charity with international NGO status.

Image: Alex Hitch, of Kier Construction, leading a practical training session.

News release written by the EBRD press team.