- In the last five years, 354 people have suffered life changing injuries after striking a live underground electricity cable
- Construction workers identified as extreme risk with 4 out of 5 reported incidents involving a tradesperson
- Research reveals nearly a third (31%) of tradespeople do not always check for underground cables
Since 2015, an average of 70 people a year are seriously injured as a result of contact with underground electricity cables. Nearly half of all cases (47%) were reported on public highways, construction sites and industrial buildings making tradespeople at extreme risk of serious injury in the workplace.
When surveyed, 93% of construction workers and industry professionals believe they always dig safely, yet almost a third (31%) admitted to not always checking for underground electricity cables before beginning work. Despite the threat to life, the main reasons tradespeople fail to check for underground electricity cables is because they don’t believe it’s their responsibility (15%), or they don’t think they’ll dig deep enough to hit anything (24%).Underground services can be found and disturbed during street works, road works, excavations, drilling and piling, demolition and site remediation, site investigations and any other work that involves penetrating the ground. These cables can run at any depth below surface level and carry voltages ranging from 230 volts (domestic voltage) and upwards.
Worryingly, almost one in six (15%) say if they uncovered an underground electricity cable encased in concrete, they would attempt to break them out, which could put them at immediate risk of life-threatening injuries.This failure to check for underground services during these excavations has led to a 20-30% increase in incidents across the UK. These strikes to cables and pipes can lead to a significant risk to those working on the affected sites.
To help prevent the number of fatalities and injuries amongst tradespeople, ENA has launched a new emotive safety film, urging those working in construction to ‘Think Before You Dig’. The thought-provoking film showcases the dangers of working near underground electricity cables, following the story of a construction worker and the devastating emotional and physical impact an accident can have.