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'Hinkley Point C presents unique opportunity to set standard for construction safety'

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) spoke this week at a supply chain CEO seminar about joint working to deliver excellence in health, safety and wellbeing performance at new nuclear power station Hinkley Point C (HPC), the largest construction project in Europe.

Mark Foy, ONR's Chief Executive and Chief Nuclear Inspector, highlighted the role of operators EDF, the supply chain, and us as regulators on safety delivery at HPC in Somerset and outlined our expectations of what can be achieved now and in the future.

At Hinkley Point C, we regulate all aspects of the construction and have a team equivalent to 27 inspectors working full time to regulate the site, undertaking technical assessments and inspections.

Regulating also includes providing advice and guidance, and our approach and philosophy is one of working collaboratively with industry and with organisations on nuclear projects to ensure desired outcomes are achieved safely.

Mark told the seminar: "Hinkley Point C presents a unique opportunity to set the standard for construction safety, not just through its safety record but also through its health and wellbeing record, and my view is that this will be achieved through excellence in your leadership and being receptive to learning - driving a high performing safety culture.

"This should be the goal of all of us involved with HPC."

As outlined to the seminar, Mark has identified conventional health and safety, and safety leadership and safety culture as two of his strategic regulatory priorities for 2022.

And he flagged recent figures which show that about 11% of the construction workforce is female, which drops to just 1% for site based/front line work.

"We're missing out not just on capacity at a time of shortage across the sector, but also great talent," he added.

ONR has pledged to support the HPC project and its supply chain to achieve their outcomes safely and securely.

Earlier this year, ONR granted permission for the start of bulk mechanical, electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (MEH) component installation work at the new power station Hinkley Point C – a major new milestone for the project.

The forthcoming fit-out on the nuclear island of Unit 1 was described as a 'mammoth undertaking' requiring a workforce of up to 4,000 at peak times, including welders, pipe fitters and electricians, working as an “alliance”.

This phase of work in Somerset will take place over three years with NNB Genco, the subsidiary created by EDF Energy.

In November 2012, ONR granted NNB GenCo a nuclear site licence to install and operate two pressurised water reactors at HPC.

Following a comprehensive review of the Hinkley Point C project, in September 2016 the government announced its decision to proceed with the first new nuclear power station for a generation.

In March 2017, ONR gave its consent for the start of nuclear safety-related construction.