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Underground Service Strikes

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

A recent article posted on Construction Enquirer found that underground powerline strikes from July to September alarmingly jumped 20% to 475 incidents compared with the same time last year.

It also noted that figures for Q3 are running 46% above the previous quarter (April – June 2020) total of 325.

We have recently seen a sharp rise in underground service strikes
Underground service strikes

The Energy Networks Association reveals 93% of construction workers believed they always dig safely, but almost a third (31%) admitted to not always checking for underground electricity cables before beginning work.

It found the main reasons workers did not check for underground electricity cables was because they felt it was not their responsibility (15%), or they would not dig deep enough to hit anything (24%).

This is a worrying trend that can have a devastating impact causing disruption, damage, injury and in the worst case scenario death.

Prosecutions by the HSE are also common and employers run the risk of a Corporate Manslaughter charge if they do not pay proper attention to risk management in this area.

The costs associated with underground service strikes can be significant, but a company should also consider the reputational damage it can cause. Through detailed planning, risk assessments and the implementation of suitable control measures, organisations can considerably reduce their own and their employees’ exposure to potential hazards.

Whilst the general requirements of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations apply to avoiding contact with underground utilities and maintaining the services they supply; more specific requirements are also relevant.

For companies involved in excavation and underground service works we feel this short guide from Zurich Insurance will help them further develop their approach to managing this commonly encountered hazard.

It also provides excellent advice on how to carry out a post incident review. This will allow them to provide a prompt notification to their Public Liability insurer, thereby avoiding potential indemnity issues for late notification.

If you would like to download the guide, please click the link below.

Underground Service Strikes
Download PDF • 138KB

Northern Risk Solutions are independent Insurance Brokers. We provide Insurance and Risk Management solutions to the construction industry. If you would like to discuss how we can help your business, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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