Plan Ahead, Look Around campaign to cut electrical accidents

By Dominic Ellis
SP Energy Networks is urging construction workers to ‘Plan Ahead, Look Around’ to reduce the number of electrical accidents

SP Energy Networks is urging construction workers to ‘Plan Ahead, Look Around’ to reduce the number of reported electrical accidents on construction sites.

The Energy Networks Association (ENA) has reported 477 safety incidents reported on construction sites this year. The number of incidents highlights the potential risks for workers as an average of five people die each year due to accidental contact with underground or overhead powerlines.

The use of heavy machinery and vehicles on a busy site can often mean construction workers are in close contact with electrical lines. One of the most common reported accidents occurs when a vehicle is driven into power lines or when a tipper comes into contact with an overhead line.

SP Energy Networks’ safety campaign is backed by leading UK homebuilding trade associations, the Home Builders Federation and the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), who will encourage members and construction industry workers to follow strict safety advice and reduce the number of electrical incidents recorded on site.

Frank Monaghan, Health and Safety Director at SP Energy Networks, said: “As the construction industry continues to bounce back from the pandemic, it’s incredibly important that workers are aware of electrical hazards on site and know the steps to take to minimise the risk of accidents.

“Accidents are often caused by striking underground power lines during excavation work or when operating large machinery near overhead lines. The construction industry can prevent accidents by planning ahead, looking around and following simple guidelines to keep staff safe. Our campaign aims to raise awareness of electrical risks and share tips on how to prevent accidents. We provide ongoing support through our online resources and helpline.”

SP Energy Networks is sharing the following safety guidelines:

  • Carry out a risk assessment in accordance with HSE Guidance Note HS (G) 47, ‘Avoiding Danger from Underground Services’ and GS6 ‘Avoiding danger from overhead power lines’.
  • Ensure you have up-to-date plans of underground services in the area – SP Energy Networks can supply these if you don’t have them. 
  • Include the 105 electrical emergency hotline on your site plans and in your list of telephone contacts; workers can also save it in their mobiles.
  • Always scan the area you intend to excavate using a Cable Avoidance Tool (CAT) and Genny.
  • Be aware that the actions of third parties could have altered cable depths or positions since the cables were laid. 
  • Mark cable positions using waterproof road paint or another permanent marker.

Kieran Walker, Technical Director at Home Builders Federation, said: “Electrical hazards can pose a serious risk for our network of home builders if the correct processes are not followed. We urge our members to remain cautious when operating near power lines and to follow the advice provided by SP Energy Networks to avoid future incidents.”

Ed Evans, Director of CECA Wales, said: “Our civil engineering workers operate in difficult and dangerous environments and their safety is our top priority. We would urge them to take on board this important advice from SP Energy Networks alongside their own rigorous procedures”

Nicola Barclay, Chief Executive at Homes for Scotland, said: “As ongoing supporters of this campaign, the guidance highlighted continues to be a very useful resource to support our members. By collaborating to raise awareness about electrical risks and the ways to avoid them, we can help to save lives.”

Click here for more safety advice.

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