Downer’s Water Services team is regularly required to shut down parts of the City of Logan’s water network to conduct maintenance activities.
A pressurised water network stores energy, which can be hazardous to workers if the energy is released when a work area is not isolated. This can result in safety incidents, lost productivity, increased costs and unplanned water outages for customers.
Effective isolation is important to guard against these risks. To date, there has not been an engineering solution which allowed for effective water isolation, so Logan Water and Downer empowered our people to investigate a safe and efficient solution.
As part of our team’s Human and Operational Performance program, facilitated Learning Teams were used to better understand how we conduct network isolations. All key stakeholders involved in the isolation process provided views on why isolations can be successful or unsuccessful. The group noted that securing some isolations was difficult. This sparked the development of a prototype valve isolation lock in collaboration with industry partner, Mass Products.
The lock enables physical control of a water network isolation - providing confidence that hazardous stored energy is controlled while maintenance occurs. The lock comprises a steel plate which is secured inside a valve box. The plate is locked in place with an individually keyed lock, and a warning tag. The lock makes it clear to workers when infrastructure is, or isn’t, isolated. The warning tag also makes it easy to identify who is working on the isolation.
Using the isolation lock, we have achieved a success rate for isolations of more than 90 per cent – and there have been no safety incidents associated with stored energy during these activities. Successful isolations have protected our people, avoided extra project costs and reduced unplanned water outages for customers.
The cost-effective lock is now available to all water industry organisations from Mass Products’ online store – and the solution was recognised as an industry-leading innovation when our Water Services team won the national Water Industry Safety Excellence Award at the Ozwater’22 Gala Dinner in May 2022.
This initiative demonstrates Downer’s contribution to achieve the following Sustainable Development Goals: