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Full Fibre Builders in UK Uniting to Improve Health and Safety

Sunday, May 15th, 2022 (12:01 am) - Score 2,064
man carrying optical fibre cable

A growing number of broadband ISPs and fibre optic network builders are in the process of establishing a new group called SHIFT (Safety & Health In Fibre Telecoms), which – as the name might suggest – aims to improve the sometimes far from perfect health and safety practices and standards in the UK fibre industry.

The issue of health and safety in the fibre industry is one that does tend to crop up now and then, although the stories that we come across predominantly stem from poor compliance with existing rules – often from third-party contractors that are being used by operators deploying Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) infrastructure (e.g. unsafe pavements for pedestrians or poorly signed / protected works in the street etc.).

Some industry health and safety directors believe that the compliance and culture specifically in the UK fibre industry is many years behind other industries, although it’s difficult to compare and confirm such things. Nevertheless, there’s certainly nothing wrong with a desire to want to change all that, which is where SHIFT comes in.

The goal of SHIFT is to work towards positive change and improvements on the health and safety side of fibre build. The group is being supported by a long list of initial members, including CityFibre, Virgin Media (VMO2), Openreach (BT), Vodafone, LightSpeed Broadband, Jurassic Fibre, Fibrus, Full Fibre Limited, Gigaclear, Swish Fibre, Lit Fibre, Toob etc and more are likely to join as the word gets out.


At present the new group is still in the early stages of development and doesn’t yet have a website, but regular meetings are occurring, terms of references have been established, and working groups created to focus on key topics. We hope to have more on this in the future.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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5 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Jason says:

    No contractor in telecoms gives anything about H&S ! end price work and safety will improve

    1. Avatar photo JP says:

      Agreed, though would also see a slow down in the work getting done…. Peice work is incentive to get a job done.

      As for H&S surely it should already be in place, if not then the firms need to be held accountable to that standard,

      Personally I’m seeing a cry for more money here with this headline…. understandable really but this is where projects ‘will’ go bust.

      I’m not saying it shouldn’t be the case that the workers are looked after better both physically and financially but this will be an unpopular move with consumers who ‘will’ see further delays to new infrastructure becoming available and in some cases maybe not becoming available at all.

    2. Avatar photo S. G. says:

      Even price work has to met minimum health and safety standards. It is not necessarily to be black on white in a contract or agreement. Contractors and sub contractors has regulation to comply as well as clients. If you cannnot met the minimum then you should negotiate better price, stop paying low rates to your workforce who at the end won’t care cause they are not motivated seeing how you screw down the team for better profit. I give you one more option, if you are not able to deliver quality work with minimum H&S conditions at the price you agreed, maybe this is just not your place. This should be the standard in the industry. Unfortunately the reality is what you stated. I have a dream where every dodgy contractor suffer a serious incident, (No big injuries whatsoever), and got prosecuted for better. Kind of karma if you want to see it that way.

  2. Avatar photo James says:

    Don’t end price lol … but some people do choose to ignore h&s, if it means the job can be done. Dynamic risk assessments are paramount with fibre build. Maybe more focus from project managers on their workers’ compliance would help.
    I sense a ‘punishment’ coming, although I wish this to be focused on individuals who choose to ignore h&s, not all. There are intelligent people who respect rules and then there are others. Education is always the answer.

    Most contractors I meet didn’t have as much training as me, I notice their devation from the ‘rules’ and it shows that they lack respect for said rules.

  3. Avatar photo BAR says:

    What a load of cods wallop, that is normally perpetuated by OR engineers. The real cost to the industry (and consumers) is the those who milk the day rate mentality.

    Having worked for OR as a subcontractor I would never go back. They allow rules to be broken as long as targets are met, Morrisons are one of the worst (they are no longer involved with most altnets).

    We’ve spent the budget for traffic management so can you just get it done, Is standard practice.

    The majority of altnets actually hold themselves to a higher standard both on H&S and spec than OR dictate on most of their fttp builds I see.

    Efficiency is key to profit not cutting corners. Currently involved in several gigabit builds across the country and in all of them if I make an H&S call I’m backed up not exploited.

    Don’t slate the professionals because of a few bag eggs in the industry, mainly due to unreasonable targets or unscrupulous contractors making a tidy profit off lads they’ve pulled from the street.

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