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COTTON BRAIDED CABLE. This type of cable is unique to BT and can be found in Telephone Exchanges and in Repeater Stations. There are approximately 600 locations that contain Cotton braided cable.

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  2. This type of cable is unique to BT and can be found in Telephone Exchanges and in Repeater Stations. There are approximately 600 locations that contain Cotton braided cable.

  3. Cotton Braided Cable {CBC} is grey in colour and is normally located within the main distribution frame of a BT Telephone Exchange

  4. Typical distribution frame

  5. CBC contains a lead foil between the copper conducting wires inside the cable, and the outer cotton braiding.

  6. THE PROBLEMPart of the cable construction is a lead / arsenic based fire resistantpaint which was impregnated on the outer cotton sheath, as these cables have been in situ for a long time {40-60 yrs} this sheath can become friable and airborne if disturbed.


  8. Cutting these cables when dry can produce dust; this may lead to significant amounts of lead in the air, possibly enough to contravene the control of lead at work regulations 2002.

  9. Engineer Cutting With Power Tool

  10. THE REMEDY In Nov 2005(on behalf of CWU HQ) I attended a trial of a new WET recovery process for cotton braided cable recovery.

  11. My attendance was to evaluate any change in working practice that may affect the health and safety of CWU members and contractors who will do this type of work.

  12. The trial has been designed by BT to get statistical data to support the change in working practices for CBC recovery. AnIndependent Analyst and BT safety services were also in attendance to develop a new generic risk assessment for the updated CBC recovery process.

  13. Trial Pre Start A {site specific} Risk assessment took place. control measures were put in place, Including a Three stage air lock.

  14. A full briefing from the analyst was given to trial engineers, this included a Face piece Face fit, to ensure an adequate seal for face mask’s. As required Under current HSE guidance in the ACOP to the COSHH regulations (2002), this was done by the analyst.

  15. Health Risks Lead can enter your body in two ways. you may breathe it in. Or it can be ingested - you may eat it. Lead can easily enter into the body where it is absorbed into the bones and also affects the vitalorgans.

  16. Advice given to engineersIf the lead levels in your bodyget to high you will begin to feel ill. Lead may not be the cause of these symptoms but…….

  17. You should consult a doctor if you have any of these symptoms after working with lead; Headaches, Nausea, Anaemia, Tiredness, Constipation, Stomach pain, or A rapid Loss of weight.

  18. It Is Important to remember Continued uncontrolled exposure could cause serious damage to the kidneys, brain and nervous system.

  19. THE TRIAL The trial involves the spray application of a modified type of paint stripper, {Lead limiter}This product can also be applied by brush. This will encapsulate the dust on CBC cables.

  20. During the trial Five key areas were highlighted • Cutting tools. • Cable access. • Product application. • Product identity. • Asbestos.

  21. Cutting tools. Because these cables are tightly packed together, workers were using open bladed Knives to cut twine that holds the cables onto the framework, and this could cause piercing injuries.

  22. Cables tied to framework

  23. To rectify this problem, the following knife is now being used.It has a curved blade with its cuttingface on its inner radius, this will reduce the potential for piercing injuries.

  24. Cable access. As the gangways are close together, access to the cables can be tight. stretching from ladders may cause falls & manual handling problems.

  25. A mobile elevating platform is being used to overcome this problem.

  26. Product application. During manual product application, Some of the product was running off the brushes and down the handle onto the wrists of the engineers, causing redness of the skin, and slight burning.

  27. This can easily be remedied if a long sleeved elasticated glove was used, so that the glove can go over the elasticated sleeves of the overalls.

  28. PRODUCT IDENTITY During the first trial, the product Was clear in colour, this caused problems for the engineers, as they had difficulty seeing where they had applied the Product.

  29. After consulting the product manufacturer, a RED dye was added to the product. This would highlight as to where the product had been placed.

  30. This made a big difference

  31. ASBESTOS CBC is normally situated between two floors, the cables have to go through cable holes in the floors or ceilings. As these holes are sealed with a fire stopping compound, it needs to be analysed for Asbestos, as it was used in the construction of cable holes within some exchange buildings in the past.

  32. In this picture you can see that the cable hole is in the floor.

  33. Historical issues Because of the nature / dangers of this type of recovery work, it has Been mostly undertaken by contractors. Because contractors are paid by the job, it has come to light that they are cutting corners on safety to save time, and therefore money.

  34. Contractor compliance The non compliance by contractors should be tolerated. Therefore BT were asked to produce a principal contractor guidance Document to be used bydirect labour and external Contractors. (A copy is available for inspection)

  35. TRIAL COMPLEATION Once the trial had been piloted at three other Exchanges, (summer 06) the findings were analysed by BT safety services and the CWU before becoming an agreed new CBC wet Recovery process.

  36. THIS TRIAL WAS ATTENDED BY • Institute of Occupational Medicine (Analysts) • Eco Solutions (product supplier) • Dave Wallington (CHD)BT Group Safety Advisor • Robin Edington (Accenture HR Safety Services) • Richard Shoulders (NLT245)BT Project Manager • Graeme Russell (CWU) • Trial engineers

  37. LEGISLATION The following lists the main legislation applicable to the work described • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regs. 1999 • The Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regs 1992 • Construction (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regs 1996 • Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002 • Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 (CAW) • Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994 (CDM) • Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) • Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005 • Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) • Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) • Lifting Operations & Lifting Equipment Regs 1998 • BT Information systems (ISIS) The list is for reference only and it is not definitive.


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