Street lighting and Covid 19: Frequently Asked Questions

by | Apr 14, 2020

These are challenging times for those delivering exterior or street lighting maintenance. Here is some UK based advice from the Institution of Lighting Professionals about delivering street lighting maintenance services, electrical testing where certificates expire, and how to deal with routine and reactive maintenance with a reduced workforce.

What should we do about street lighting electrical testing where the certificate has or will expire?

Carry out a risk assessment on the electrical testing frequency:

  • Look at how many installations failed last year and previous years
  • From that analysis, make an estimate for the likely number of failures this year. What percentage is it of the overall stock quantity? Do you think it’s high, medium or low?
  • If possible, do some analysis of the failures – are there any trends such as age or location (the same housing estate or road)?
  • Try to anticipate where failures are likely to occur and how serious they are. Are they minor or more serious?
  • Should the likely failures be low and minor, and bearing in mind there may be fewer members of the public out there, then suspending electrical testing for a period will be acceptable.

Recording the decision-making process is essential, for this may need to be substantiated at a later date. This is similar to the deferred MOT testing announced by government.

Should the failure rates be medium or high then you could again drill down the failures to identify any pattern to concentrate any available resources. Again, record the decision-making process in case it is needed later. This may not be an efficient deployment of resources, but under the circumstances it must be considered reasonable endeavours.

Does it matter that street lighting may not come under BS 7671 in future?

In the short and medium term, no. Although street lighting is mentioned as an exemption in the new IEC 60364-1 fundamental principles, it will be months if not years before this affects today’s street lighting engineer.

Should we abandon cyclic street lighting maintenance?

Cyclic maintenance could be sacrificed as if cleaning and lamp changes move from bulk change to burn to extinction there would be a 12 to 24 month ‘honeymoon period’ when there will be little discernible increase in failures. Reduced lighting levels due to lamp ageing shouldn’t be such an issue unless you are working on a DBFO or PFI where testing takes place. In that situation perhaps they could request a suspension during these times. In future, there would need to be an agreed recovery programme to address the backlog.

How should we approach reactive street lighting maintenance?

A similar approach should be applied as above. Determine areas, roads or locations you consider are priorities. Again, you need to be mindful that there should be much less traffic and people out there so the risks should be lessened.

How does this affect Design-Finance-Build-Operate or Private Finance Initiative contracts?

Where the work is part of a DBFO or PFI contract then there will be mechanisms for there to be relief from deductions, but there must be dialogue with the client to agree the circumstances and extent of any relief. The contracts probably wouldn’t have considered this situation when it was written as the clauses would have been written around war, civil disruption and natural disasters.

What is happening when it comes to Issuing Works?

Many asset management systems allow mobile devices to be used that receive downloaded works instructions, so operatives do not need to visit offices. Where mobile connectivity is not available mobile phones or tablets could be used to transfer works instructions through email.

Why not think about operatives taking their vehicles home and keeping parts in their homes; if they have a garage or shed? Where lone working or social distancing is not practical then keeping operatives working together as a permanent team could be considered. Should one of the team acquire the Coronavirus there would probably be fewer to self-isolate. Not sharing vehicles would also reduce the risk of spreading any infection.

More support from the ILP

Photo by Israel Sundseth on Unsplash

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