Five things to do before you dig
Smith Brothers’ SHEQ manager, Darrell Johnson, attended an industry webinar last month, hosted by the Association for Project Safety. As part of the hour-long session, one of the subjects covered was how to avoid damaging third party assets – such as cables, pipes and mains – when on site.
The session was delivered by a spokesperson from Linesearch, a free service whereby over 90 asset owners provide information on their infrastructure for companies like ours. This includes underground cables and overhead lines, electricity, gas and water pipes, and even cable routes from the likes of BT – all of which have been translated on to a map of the UK.
This ‘dial before you dig’ service enables contractors to type a location into the site, and before you’ve had time to make a cup of tea, they will have received an email with a map detailing all registered asset owners’ equipment – and where it is buried.
Utilising a service such as Linesearch will help to reduce injuries and deaths due to asset strikes, ensure a prompt and accurate response to all enquiries, and ultimately increase members’ knowledge of proposed works near their assets.
Here are five key takeaways from the workshop:
1. Study the plans
Before undertaking any kind of excavation work, it’s vital that teams obtain a copy of all utility plans and drawings – something which is particularly apt, considering that the majority of the UK is working, and therefore planning, from home.
2. Hunt for clues
When lockdown is lifted – or if you’re utilising Google Maps – there can be tell-tale signs of whether there’s more than just soil under your feet. Be mindful of patches of tarmac, water meter boxes, and cable V covers.
3. Identify street furniture
Another giveaway of underfoot infrastructure are nearby streetlamps, illuminated signs or cable TV cabinets – each of which will usually have an electricity service cable incoming.
4. Scan the ground
Use cable avoidance tools (such as CAT and GENNY) to scan the area which is due to be excavated. If HV cables are present, it might also be worth carrying out a ground probing radar scan too.
5. Use your hands
Well, not literally. But if you are in any kind of doubt around what might be lurking under the tarmac or topsoil, go back to basics and forgo the mechanical excavators where you suspect third-party apparatus. And finally, remember that damaged apparatus is expensive to repair – and the higher the voltage, the higher the bill.
Why choose Smith Brothers?
With UK-wide operational coverage, Smith Brothers Contracting is well-placed to support any HV requirements you might have. We’re also offering completely free consultations – without obligation – to discuss how we might be able to help.
Our unparalleled engineering resource holds a wealth of experience in HV private distribution networks across a range of sectors, including – but not limited to – commercial, healthcare, manufacturing, heavy industry, petrochemical, data centres, water, mining and aggregates. Contact us for further information.