Modern data centres can use around 100 million megawatt hours of electricity a year, orders of magnitude more than a typical office building and more than enough to introduce significant danger into the workplace. As recently as 2015, Martin Walton was electrocuted and killed working on a data centre in Middlesex when one of two FM companies involved issued a permit-to-work allowing him to reroute a power supply through a distribution unit not under their control and without confirming that the other supply was isolated.
This case study looks at how Santander has improved health & safety and compliance in their own data centres.
Santander Corporate Banking provides dedicated relationship banking support to businesses with a turnover of more than £250,000 through the bank’s 35 regional corporate business centres located across the UK. It is part of Santander UK plc, a full-service retail and commercial bank providing services to 25 million customers, with almost 1,200 branches.
CBRE GWS took over Santander Corporate Banking’s facilities management service in 2015, covering the bank’s entire UK buildings portfolio including 33 sites across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Santander Corporate Banking required a formal means of controlling the work that was carried out in their data centres. It was crucial to safeguard the critical environment of the data centres, ensuring that the correct people, with the correct skillset were onsite, doing the correct tasks. The bank wanted complete peace of mind and real-time immediacy.
Santander adopted the e-permit system in its data centres in 2013, after being attracted to e-permits’ track record in other traditional and critical environments. The bank collaborated with its FM service provider (at the time Mitie) and Banyard Solutions on the implementation of e-permits and the adoption of the consequential changes to existing processes to ensure stakeholders and staff understood that the adoption of the system was about a new method of control, and was the only serviceable option of ensuring the right people were in the right place at the right time, with the right skills and qualifications.
e-permits has improved health & safety and compliance, reduced risks and increased contractor control, in a high security banking environment. Ensuring that the right people are on site is essential and e-permits provides that reassurance. The system provides a full audit trail, which is essential for the bank’s stringent internal auditing procedures.
“We have really engaged with e-permits. It didn’t take long for us to recognise that the system offers reduced risk, contractor control, compliance to health and safety and most importantly keeps us completely satisfied with regards to security in our critical environment data centres. Internally, when we carry out audits we can see exactly what work has been carried out and when and where and by who. This gives us much-needed composure.”Colin Bryant, Data Centre Facilities Operations Manager, Santander plc.
In the case of Martin Walton, the HSE Inspector concluded that “permit to work systems were operated poorly or not at all. Not one person involved in the work at the time of the accident had an accurate overall understanding of the work being carried out and, as a consequence, Martin Walton and others were unknowingly working in the vicinity of exposed live electrical terminals.”
Many companies have well-defined processes but these have been traditionally implemented through paper-based systems which can lead to a disconnect between policy and what’s actually happening on the ground. e-permits was developed to reduce that disconnect and we’re delighted that Santander, Digiplex, Equinix, Digital Realty and many other data centre operators are using e-permits to protect their workers.If You Like This Post, Please Share It!