History of LW in France

A decision made by the Managing Director of ELECTRICITE DE FRANCE on 14 December 1960 established the LIVE WORKING TECHNICAL STUDIES COMMITTEE as part of Senior Management, the role of which is:

  • to coordinate studies and experiments carried out in different Directorates,

  • to draft operating techniques and equipment specifications,

  • to present proposals to amend regulations and internal instructions,

  • to draw up information reports for the HSC Coordination Committee.

On 6 June 1962 the Managing Director of ELECTRICITE DE FRANCE decided, as part of the activities of the Live Working Technical Studies Committee, to create a Design, Execution and Experimentation Section for the Technical Committee (SERECT).

The decree dated 14 November 1962 therefore only permits Live Working in exceptional cases.

On 20 February 1964, the Gas and Electricity Director signed a waiver enabling ELECTRICITE DE FRANCE to undertake Live Working experiments and qualify SERECT alone to perform experiments, however with the possibility of having work on category 1 installations done experimentally by a few Operating Units.

On 24 June 1965, The Industry Minister approved application of the Temporary General Instruction for Electricité de France to carry out 'Live Working' for voltages below 30 kV, with effect from 1 October 1965.

The EDF Managing Director's decision on 29 April 1966 includes a new name LIVE WORKING COMMITTEE and defined new roles:

  • Make a summary of instructions collected abroad,

  • Direct studies of operating procedures for Live Working,

  • Authorises to operating procedures and equipment specific to Live Working, as well as staff training programmes,

  • Prepare draft regulations that seemed necessary, as well as general internal instructions for ELECTRICITE DE FRANCE.

This decision indicates that the Committee will be chaired by a representative of the French Gas, Electricity and Coal Directorate (DIGEC).

On 26 October 1970, The Minister for Industrial and Scientific Development approved Publication UTE C 18-520 (General Instruction for carrying out Live Working on electrical power distribution networks (categories 1, 2 and 3).

By letter dated 17 December 1970, and pursuant to Publication C18-520, DIGEC:

  • authorised the training department (PROFOR) to train EDF employees in LW,

  • qualified the LW Committee (Authorisation of equipment, laboratory tests, WCs, approval of PROFOR programmes),

  • authorised SERECT to carry out experiments on installations in the three categories.

A decision by the Director for Gas, Electricity and Coal (Ministry for Industrial and Scientific Development) dated 9 June 1972 extended the Committee's scope to include French companies working on public electric installations and networks, in the fields of:

  • training (approval of PROFOR Service programmes),

  • authorisation of tools and equipment specially designed for Live Working,

  • authorisation of laboratories responsible for performing acceptance tests or operational inspections and tests,

  • approval of operating procedures and working conditions.

In parallel, this decision authorised PROFOR to train any electricity company and provided for the Committee to be consulted to authorise any new Training Centre.

In May 1978 Publication UTE C 18-515, considered by the Labour Minister as the best expression of the current best practice, used article 7.3 to specify that Live Working on private High Voltage installations should be carried out by applying the principles of Publication UTE C 18-520, i.e. referral to the Live Working.

The Decree dated 16 February 1982, relating to special measures to ensure the safety of workers against electrical hazards during construction, operating and maintenance work on electrical power distribution grids, specifies that "a body jointly designated for this purpose by the Ministers for Labour and Electrical Power approves training programmes, training centres, working methods and tools and safety equipment specially designed for Live Working".

Publications C18-513 and C18-520 were made compulsory by the Decree dated 1 July 1983, by application of the 1982 decree.

The Ministers for Social Affairs and Industry confirmed the decision dated 9 June 1972 and applied it generally from 1 July 1983.

This interministerial decision, by application of the decree dated 16 February 1982, specifies the role of the Committee and SERECT as follows:

  • Article 1: The Live Working Committee headquartered at Electricité de France - Direction Générale, 2, rue Louis Murat, 75008 Paris, is appointed to approve training programmes for Live Working and to authorise training centres, to authorise tools and safety equipment specially designed for Live Working and to approve working methods,

  • Article 2: SERECT (Design, Execution and Experimentation Section of the Live Working Committee) to carry out experimental Live Working to perfect new methods,

  • Article 3: The Director for Gas, Electricity and Coal is responsible for enacting this decision.

Publication UTE C 18-510, November 1988, replaces Publications C18-513, 515 and 520. Approved by the Decree dated 17 January 1989 by the Minister for Electrical Power and the Minister for Labour, this Publication, applicable to the whole profession, confirmed the Committee's role as already defined by the 16 February 1982 decree.

This brief history shows that:

  • LW activities are based on extensive use and organisation that is gradually implemented, by approval and successive decisions of companies, public authorities and the different ministries involved,

  • The 1982 decree plays an essential pivotal role for all activities involving electricity transport and distribution networks,

  • Through its work, the Committee, in the space of three decades, after having driven the launch of Live Working in EDF, has seen its mission extended by the Public Authority to everyone involved in electricity transport and distribution networks.

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