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ISO 45001:2018 achievement 23/10/2018

Lanes Utilities, part of drainage specialist Lanes Group plc, has joined the first cohort of organisations to achieve ISO 45001:2018 accreditation.

ISO 45001:2018 is designed to be a significant upgrade of the current OHSAS 18001 standard, setting a global benchmark for continuous improvement in health and safety.

New elements in the standard include a clear link between health and safety and business strategy, a stronger focus on the role of business leadership and management teams, and greater emphasis on worker engagement and participation.

Lanes Utilities is the sole wastewater network services maintenance partner for Thames Water. Its 1,400 people are responsible for unblocking, cleaning and repairing drains and sewers for 15 million wastewater customers.

Lanes Group director Andy Brierley, who leads the operation, said: "As soon as the new standard came out, we knew we wanted to challenge ourselves by seeking to achieve it as early as possible. We want to be the best WNS maintenance provider, and to do that we need to be the safest."

To achieve ISO 45001:2018 accreditation, Lanes Utilities underwent a stringent independent audit of its occupational health and safety management systems and processes, carried out by the British Standards Institution (BSI).

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Jobs website for drainage industry 08/10/2018

A new careers website launched by Lanes Group plc aims to encourage the best people to apply for jobs at the national drainage and utility specialist – and promote the drainage industry as a place to work.

The new website gives details of jobs available at more than 30 locations across the UK, from Aberdeen in Scotland to Plymouth in Devon, and that joining Lanes can lead to a great career.

Through stories about people who already work at Lanes Group, the UK’s largest drainage and utilities specialist, visitors will also get a very good idea of what it is like to work in the drainage and utility maintenance sectors.

Debi Bell, head of HR Services at Lanes Group, said: “Our primary aim is to encourage the very best people to apply for the exciting jobs we have to offer up and down the UK, and for them to see the opportunities to develop very fulfilling career at Lanes.

“We’re also mindful, that some people have preconceived notions of what it’s like to work in the drainage and utilities industries, which can add to the challenge of attracting the kind of people we want to work with us.

“By including profiles of our people on our new careers site, they can, in they own words, explain what it’s like to work at Lanes, what each type of job entails, and why a career at Lanes is an excellent choice.”

Lanes Group employs more than 2,000 people and delivers services to every commercial and industrial sector in the UK, including water utilities, energy, highways, rail, Government, retail, and manufacturing.

Find out more about jobs and careers at Lanes Group: https://careers.lanesgroup.com/

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Drain clean and survey 09/10/2018

Drainage engineers from Lanes Group plc have carried out cleaning and surveying of surface drains serving a new armoured fighting vehicle test facility in South Wales.

They were called in to ensure the drainage system at the facility was in optimum condition with no blockages before it was handed over following its installation.

The test track has been built at the General Dynamics armoured fighting vehicle assembly, integration, and testing facility at Merthyr Tydfil in Mid Glamorgan.
General Dynamics UK has been awarded contracts worth £3.9 billion to deliver and service 589 AJAX armoured fighting vehicles for the British Army until 2024.

The test track, built by Griffiths Civil Engineering and Construction, allows the military vehicles to be fully tested before they are handed over to the Army.
Griffiths site agent Chris Williams said: “The surface water drainage system makes sure the track delivers the same highly-accurate performance test results all-year-round.

“As such, it was important for us to commission Lanes to carry out the drainage survey and cleansing of all underground pipework. Its drainage survey reports provided the evidence we needed to show the client the drainage system across the test site was fit for purpose.”

A jet vac tanker and a CCTV drainage survey team from the Lanes Cardiff depot were deployed to carry out the work.

The drainage system included standard surface water pipes and a network of filter pipes, which collect water from surrounding ground.

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New standards set solid foundation 06/08/2018

Lanes Utilities is using new international standards to integrate its management systems in a process that is already delivering significant benefits for its teams and clients.

The business, part of Lanes Group plc, the UK’s largest independent drainage specialist, is the wastewater network services maintenance partner for Thames Water.

Lanes Utilities has transitioned to new 2015 versions of both ISO 9001 for Quality Management Systems and ISO 14001 for Environmental Management Systems. It hopes to transition from OHAS 18001 to ISO 45001, the new health and safety standard, by the end of 2018.

Hannah Clark, business systems and compliance manager for Lanes Utilities, said: “Moving to the new ISO standards is already having some significant benefits for us. They are designed specifically to support the sensible integration of management systems documentation required for compliance with individual standards.

“This is reducing our paperwork, streamlining process management, and giving greater clarity and credibility to the way we manage our work both inside and outside the organisation.”

Transitioning to the new standards has allowed Lanes to align its standards more closely with those set by Thames Water. Systems have already been tested operationally and have worked well.

New elements in each standard have been embraced by the management team at Lanes Utilities, which has 1,400 people, including contractors, and operates 390 specialist wastewater vehicles to maintain the UK’s largest and most complex sewer and drain network.

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Majority of Britons oppose wet wipe ban 02/08/2018

Fifty-nine per cent of Britons would not support the proposed Government ban on disposable wipes, despite 93 per cent of people agreeing that the British public needs more education on the dangers of fatbergs, according to new research from Lanes Group. 

Fatbergs are formed when non-biodegradable items such as wet wipes, sanitary products and nappies are flushed down toilets and combine with fats, oil and grease (FOG) to create vast masses that are blocking the nation’s sewers.

The survey of more than 1,000 people discovered that 47 per cent of people admit to pouring FOG from cooking down the kitchen sink. 31 per cent of people have flushed wet wipes down the toilet and 32 per cent of people have flushed kitchen roll down the toilet, which does not disintegrate in the same way as toilet paper.

In spite of these habits, some 75 per cent of people said they were either ‘quite aware’ or ‘very aware’ of the dangers of pouring FOG down the drain.

Baby wipes and antibacterial household wipes are the most common types of disposable wipes in British households, used by 44 per cent and 52 per cent of people respectively. Fifty-nine per cent of people said they would not support the proposed Government blanket ban on the sale of disposable wipes, which was suggested in May this year.

The most common reason for this was that ‘there is nothing wrong with wipes, as long as people dispose of them correctly’, a sentiment that 43% of those opposed to the ban agreed with.

Among those who were in favour of a Government ban on disposable wipes, cleaning wipes and toilet tissue-style wipes were the most commonly selected as the types of wipes they would be in favour of banning. Baby wipes were the least likely to be selected, with just 15 per cent of respondents in favour of the Government banning baby wipes. Forty-one per cent of those in favour of a ban said their main reason was that wipes are part of a ‘disposable culture’ that is bad for the environment.

Michelle Ringland, head of marketing at Lanes for Drains, said: “Disposable wipes should never ever be flushed down the toilet, even if they say ‘flushable’ on the packaging. The vast majority of them do not biodegrade easily and are usually made from polyester, containing millions of microfibers that are impregnated with chemicals.

“Not only are these making their way into our sewers and creating fatbergs like the 130-tonne ‘monster’ we helped to excavate in Whitechapel, they are also entering the nation’s waterways and clogging up riverbeds.

"The only thing that is safe to flush down the toilet or sink is one of the ‘three Ps’; pee, poo and toilet paper; everything else must go in the bin. It’s great to see the British public clearly want to do something about the problems in our sewers, with 93 per cent in favour of more education, but many are getting mixed messages on where to begin.”

Research from Water UK revealed that wipes make up around 93 per cent of the material in sewer blockages and are estimated to cause around 300,000 blockages every year, at a cost of £100 million to the country.

Earlier this year, waterways charity Thames21 revealed that more than 5,000 wet wipes were found in a single area of the Thames foreshore measuring 116 square metres, which is the highest number of wet wipes ever found in a single place in the UK.

Ringland said: “After more than a decade of circulation and ever-increasing popularity, wet wipes have become one of the most environmentally damaging products in our households and people are dangerously reliant on them. The only way to stop them blocking the drains, polluting our waterways, contaminating oceans and killing marine life is to enforce a ban.

“In the meantime, the very least that manufacturers can do is to change their packaging and branding to reflect the fact that no wipe is ‘flushable’ and the only safe way to dispose of them is in the bin.”

General awareness of the dangers of fatbergs has improved since the last time Lanes Group polled the general public. When asked ‘Have you ever heard of the term fatberg’, only 47 per cent said yes in September 2017, compared with 61% in July 2018.

When asked which types of wet wipes are flushable, 49% correctly answered ‘none of them’ in 2017, compared with 64% in 2018.

Ringland concluded: “It is encouraging to see that people have a better understanding of the damage occurring in our sewers and how their daily behaviour affects this. Our Fatberg Fighters initiative with schoolchildren during the past year has hopefully helped to raise this awareness. The conversation around plastics pollution, sparked by Blue Planet, has certainly spread the message about what should and should not go into our waterways, but we are only at the start of a long journey.” 

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Drought is right time to prepare for floods 30/07/2018

No one should be fooled by the UK’s summer heatwave – now is the right time to prepare for flooding to come, warns drainage specialist Lanes Group plc.

Experience from past drought events, the threats posed by climate change, and the impact of prolonged periods of dry weather on drainage systems, all point to the need to be worried right now about too much water, not too little.

Drought can increase flood risk

Lanes Group development director Richard Leigh said: “While we continue to enjoy the summer sun, now is definitely the time to for property managers to review the capability of drainage systems to cope with large volumes of water, and even flood management plans.

“It is not just a case of being lulled into a false sense of security. The processes associated with drought conditions can increase the risk of flooding and can compromise drain and sewer networks.”

Flood risks increase during heatwaves because dried-out ground becomes compacted and hard, reducing the speed with which water from sudden downpours during thunderstorms can be absorbed.

If surface water drains are blocked, even on just one or two places, under hard surface areas such as car parks, the same effect can be created. Sheets of water run-off can inundate homes and businesses.

Flash flood can be just as devastating

A flash flood event may only last minutes, but it can be as devastating to a business and to the lives of families as a prolonged flood. Even with insurance pay-outs most businesses never recover from having premises flooded.

Recent history also tells us that it is entirely possible for prolonged drought to be followed quickly by serious flooding. The current heatwave has been compared with the last major period of drought in 1976. Then, the country was not so well prepared, triggering widespread hosepipe bans and major water shortages.

In August, the government appointed a minister of drought, Denis Howell, and serious consideration was being given to shipping water in from Norway and using cloud seeding to boost rainfall artificially. Then on August Bank Holiday Monday, the heavens opened. The UK was soon in the grip of major floods, crippling large parts of the country, with twice the average rainfall in September, and the flooding continuing into October.

Climate change a major flood factor

The Environment Agency said a dry winter and spring in 2007 contributed in some areas to devastating floods in the summer of that year, in the West Country, Midlands and Yorkshire.

In 2012, an unseasonal heatwave in March, after a prolonged period of dry weather stretching back into 2011, was followed by devastating floods in June, July and into August, inundating thousands of homes and businesses.

Climate change is expected to increase the risk of such volatile weather in the UK over the coming decades, which will require businesses to review the way they manage drainage requirements on their properties. A White Paper, Trees – Getting to the Root of the Issue, published by Lanes sister company UKDN Waterflow (LG) Ltd, and authored by Richard Leigh, points to the additional problems we are likely to face in the UK if droughts become more frequent.

Drying soil – increased risk of pipe problems

Richard Leigh said: “The drying and cracking of soil, leading to increased ground movement, is a common cause of displaced pipe joints and pipe cracking, which can lead to more pipe blockages and collapses.

“It also gives greater opportunity for tree roots, also seeking out scarce water, to get into pipes, adding to blockage problems. Meanwhile sluggish water flows during dry periods can increase the build-up of debris, which also leads to blockages.”

All these processes point to one thing – now is the right time to make sure drainage systems are in optimum condition to cope with any deluges that are likely to come. Key to this is commissioning a drainage specialist to carry out drainage inspections and CCTV drainage surveys to assess the condition of surface water and foul drains.

Drain maintenance – vital to control floods

The drain surveys use HD quality video and still images, plus system maps, to clearly show the condition of drainage pipes, both in terms of state of repair and drain blockages.

In most cases, blockages can be quickly dealt with by cleaning pipes with drain water jetting. If necessary, cracked and displaced drainage pipes can be rehabilitated by installing point repairs, also known as patch liners.

Richard Leigh said: “Flash floods are the immediate risk during a heatwave. But it’s clear the UK’s current weather patterns present prolonged flood risks for homes, businesses and millions of people.

“Preparing for what might come with a range of flood alleviation measures, including effective drain maintenance, should be an urgent priority.”


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New water contracts 19/02/2018

Lanes Group has won major new contracts to provide specialist cleaning services for Thames Water.

The work includes sewage treatment plant cleaning, sewage pumping station cleaning, wet well emptying, and tankering.

Lanes Group has joined other contractors on a framework pool to supply the services for three years, with options to extend delivery for up to eight years.

Lanes Group Director Andy Brierley said: “We’re thrilled to be able to supply these specialist services for Thames Water and its 15 million wastewater customers. We already have highly skilled and dedicated teams in place, combined with the most advanced specialist vehicles, to carry out the work.”

Thames Water tendered services in four lots within the framework. Lanes Group’s bids were successful with all of them.

Through its Lanes Utilities Division, Lanes Group is already Thames Water’s sole wastewater network services maintenance partner. Services delivered under the framework represent additional work.

Lanes Utilities operates more than 270 specialist vehicles from six utility service hubs, and employs 1,000 staff on behalf of Thames Water. Lanes Group also delivers wastewater network maintenance services for many other water companies, including Severn Trent, Scottish Water, and Anglian Water.

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Drainage maintenance is 'vital' to care delivery at NHS hospital 20/12/2017

Facilities managers at one of the largest mental health hospitals in the North East of England say drainage maintenance carried out by Lanes Group is vital to support the delivery of the best care.

Lanes carries out planned and preventative maintenance (PPM) on the drainage system at the 210-bed St George’s Park Hospital in Morpeth, Northumberland, on behalf of Robertson FM.

Robertson contract manager Ian McKenzie said the work, delivered by drainage engineers from the Lanes Newcastle depot, was essential to the smooth running of the hospital.

He added: “Our data clearly shows the drainage PPM work has a measurable positive impact in reducing the amount of reactive work our in-house teams have to do to tackle problems like drain blockages.

“If drains and sewers become seriously blocked, wastewater could back up into the hospital, adversely affecting patient care. The work done by Lanes is a vital element of our strategy to prevent that happening.”

The Lanes drainage teams use a jet vac tanker to carry out gully and drain cleaning across the whole site twice a year.

As with other healthcare sites, St George’s Park Hospital, operated by Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, has a high risk of drains being blocked by items wrongly or accidently being flushed down toilets.

Ian McKenzie said: “Hospitals reflect society. As such we have patients, visitors, and staff who do not always follow the correct protocols for using toilets and sinks, which can result in a higher risk of blockages. This makes having a robust, proactive drainage maintenance programme all the more important.”

Trevor Sawyer, area development manager for Lanes Newcastle, said: “We’re pleased to be able to support such an important public service, and can also respond to emergency call-outs as well.

“All our PPM clients have the added assurance that they can call on our advice and expertise at any time, and can access our full range of specialist services, from CCTV drainage surveys and sewer diagnostics, to drain rehabilitation and replacement."

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Casino drainage solution 19/10/2017

Facilities managers at a Scottish casino have called in Lanes Group to help them resolve a tricky drainage problem. Internal drainage pipes at the casino were proving susceptible to springing a leak, especially during and after periods of heavy rain.

Facilities managers needed a long-term and effective solution to the problem, which had the potential to inconvenience customers and damage the fabric of the building.

Andy McCormack, area development manager at Lanes in Glasgow, worked with the casino's FM team to identify the root cause of the drainage problem and then fix it.

He said: "We carried out CCTV drainage surveys of the internal drainage stacks in the building, leading from the roof to underground sewers. These identified a number of places where the pipes were blocked, and where the drainage system was not designed for optimum flow of water down though the building."

Lanes Group cleared the blockages in the cast iron pipes using electro-mechanical cleaning equipment that removes build-ups of scale and rust.

Its drainage engineers excavated a 90-degree section of downpipe in the basement, which had collapsed, and replaced it with a new section of PVC pipe. They also redirected roof guttering to more evenly spread the flow of water through water downpipes.

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Drainage contractor introduces electric car 18/08/2017

Lanes Group has taken delivery of its first electric car to support its strategy of delivering sustainable utility wastewater and drainage services. 

It now has a BMW i3 to support its front-line teams - with supervising staff using it to visit worksites and attend client meetings. 

The electric car, sporting eye-catching Lanes livery, has been contract hired by Lanes Scotland, for use in and around Glasgow. A second car is on order to operate in Edinburgh. 

Lanes Scotland director Kevin Moon said: "We believe this is the first example of a drainage contractor using an electric car operationally, certainly in Scotland, and maybe in the UK. 

"We want our services to be as sustainable as possible, and reducing the carbon footprint within supply chains is certainly a key concern of many of our clients. 

"Having the BMW i3 in our fleet, and hopefully more of them in the future, is a very visible message to our clients and the wider public that we take concerns about vehicle pollution and climate change seriously." 

Lanes Group, the UK's largest independent drainage specialist, operates three depots in Scotland, in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

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