More companies than ever before are now involved in digging holes across the UK. Latest estimates indicate that around 4 million holes are dug each year by utility companies with many more dug as part of construction projects. Third party damage to underground services continues to be a source of danger and financial loss to workers, members of the public, utility companies and contractors.
HSE’s mission is to prevent death, injury and ill health and this cannot be achieved in isolation. HSE needs support and help from leaders who are committed to promulgating a common-sense and practical approach to health and safety. We therefore commend the work of the Utilities Strike Avoidance Group (USAG) in sharing and promoting best practice across the utilities, their contractors and partners to minimize the number of underground utility strikes.
Small businesses make an important contribution to Great Britain’s economic prosperity. However, they also account for a considerable number of health and safety incidents. That is not to say that SME’s are inherently dangerous. Rather, some SME’s conduct activities that carry a high level of risk, including excavations.
SME’s often find goal-based health and safety management difficult to apply. Finding new ways to help SMEs understand how to comply with health and safety law in a manner proportionate to the risks posed by their work activities is a key priority for HSE
The ‘Safe Digging Charter’ has been prepared by industry specialists to provide guidance to SME’s on the practical elements of excavation. The Charter’s supporting guidance documents are simple as well as comprehensive and easy to adopt.
Head of Construction Division
Norman Baker MP
TRANSPORT MINISTER SUPPORTS USAG CHARTER
Minister launches industry charter to improve street works
Transport Minister Norman Baker MP launched the industry-led charter to improve the safety of street works.The Safe Dig Charter has been compiled by the utilities sectors and contractors to ensure the highest standards of safety and best practice when carrying out maintenance work on the vital services for our homes and businesses. In particular it will help those carrying out work avoid disrupting supplies through accidental strikes on utilities in the ground.
Local Transport Minister Norman Baker said:
“I know how frustrating it is when road works cause unnecessary disruption and delays, or worse, when lanes are coned off with no explanation of why no work is taking place. It is not just inconvenient but expensive, costing the economy £4 billion a year.
“The launch of today’s charter is important as it will help to reduce delays to the travelling public, while improving standards within the industry.”
The Charter ensures any work that is carried out is:
ENA Chief Executive David Smith said:
“Delivering a safe working environment and protecting existing infrastructure are critical to successful street works. In an Olympic year and with ever increasing pressure on utilities to replace ageing infrastructure in crowded urban environments this is even more important.”
David Burgess, Group Health and Safety Manager of North Midland Construction Plc, one of the contractors involved in developing the Charter, said:
“As an industry we have a responsibility to ensure all those working on the vital services provided to the public are competent, properly trained and have access to the right equipment.
“Health and safety must be paramount to every company working where this level of risk exists. This Charter is the result of significant work by stakeholders across the industry to share best practice and ensure the whole industry commits to reducing risk to individuals and the supplies of homes and communities.”