Brendan Bleasdale

Engineering Authority, Contact Energy

Brendan Bleasdale

Brendan Bleasdale is a world-class process safety thinker who has been influential in introducing the concept to Contact Energy and driving awareness of its critical importance through the company and the wider energy industry.

Process safety is the collective name for systems, procedures and policies which prevent incidents and protect people, the environment and the business from the effects of major accidents.

Contact says Bleasdale’s abilities, his broad base of technical expertise and passion for safety are pivotal to the firm’s technical and commercial performance.

He conceived and developed Safe to Run, an innovative approach to improving the visibility of process safety with a focus on continuous improvement. Contact says this is now a key pillar in its operations.

Communication is a fundamental tenet of the programme which emphasises engagement with front line staff. Every project has significant input from Contact’s engineers at the ‘sharp end’ – they are redesigning the systems and processes they will be using.

In March Contact went live with its first phase of key performance indicators in the process safety dashboard, which measures the effectiveness of the company’s maintenance management controls.

Bleasdale played an active role in the development of these KPIs, which measure in near real-time how defences against major hazard incidents are working.  He also follows up on records of incidents to ensure they have been dealt with appropriately, and uses the data to identify potential trends.

Bleasdale played a crucial role in the safe closure of the Otahuhu power station in late 2015. This was to go from being fully operational to having all significant hazards removed within one week – an exceptionally short timeframe. This included:

·         Purging all gas systems

·         Removing all hydrogen

·         Removing all bulk chemicals and purge chemical storage

·         De-energising the high-voltage equipment

Originally from the UK, Bleasdale has 40 years’ experience in the energy industry, much of that in process safety with Nuclear Electric and British Energy.

Contact says he has an exceptional breadth of knowledge and an eye for detail. The company says he is an outstanding functional leader who maintains excellent communication with the firm’s front-line engineers, can navigate and address the most complex of issues, and provides a commercially-vital ‘risk view’ of board decisions.

His specially created role as Contact’s Engineering Authority sees him constantly reviewing and improving the company’s technical activity. That is across 11 power stations with hydro, geothermal and thermal fuel sources, and also extends into the firm’s gas business.

Bleasdale has made a significant effort to support the development of New Zealand hazard regulations. He is sharing Contact’s process safety journey across the wider industry, both through membership of the Business Leaders Safety Forum’s Process Safety Group, and through dialogue with other energy generators.

In 2015, he was a part of the Guidance Group set up by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to advise on new regulations for Major Hazard Facilities.

That appointment reflects Bleasdale’s capacity and desire to reach beyond Contact and focus on what is safe for all of New Zealand.

The Energy Engineer of the Year award category is sponsored by IPENZ