Essex power worker claims safety award


An Essex-based power worker has been recognised for his strong commitment to safety after drawing on his own experience of an accident in the workplace.

Graham Barton won the ‘Stay Safe’ award in UK Power Networks’ annual ‘Living our Values’ at a London ceremony.

Graham, 44, works out of the company’s Colchester office and looks after the health and safety of tree cutters across both the East and South East of England. Trees are regularly cut back from overhead lines to help prevent power cuts.

Before joining the firm, Graham was himself injured at his previous workplace when a chainsaw came into contact with his left wrist resulting in him cutting five tendons and needing 42 stitches.

This incident drives his passion for ensuring the safety of staff and contractors around high voltage electricity.

He said: “The award was a genuine surprise and really nice to receive. It’s in my name, but it’s recognition for all the tree cutting teams and contractors.

“I have always engaged really strongly with safety. I had a chainsaw accident myself when I was only 19 working at a different company so I suppose a lot of my passion for safe working developed from there, I’ve always had a desire to do things the right way.

“My accident was more than 20 years ago now, but it does give you empathy. You can relate to colleagues if an accident has happened or come close to happening because you have been through that situation, and can bring that experience into play to help people emerge stronger.”

Safety is paramount at UK Power Networks and Graham, who lives in Stowmarket, holds weekly briefings with colleagues to ensure it is always the top priority or tree cutting work.

Graham added: “The safety advice we offer is always really well received and we work in a collaborative way with contractors, too.

“We want conversations about safety to be frank and honest so the right learnings come. Tree cutting can be a dangerous business so it’s our role to make it as safe as possible.”

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