Construction workers urged to ‘plan ahead and look around’ to avoid electrical hazards

SP Energy Networks has launched a new safety campaign to prevent electrical accidents on construction sites.

Construction workers urged to 'plan ahead and look around’ to avoid electrical hazards

The electricity distributor has partnered with UK homebuilding trade associations Home Builders Federation, Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) and Homes For Scotland to launch the ‘Plan Ahead, Look Around’ initiative to encourage the construction industry to follow strict safety guidelines and reduce the number of electrical incidents.

Reports reveal that to date this year there have been 51 safety incidents on construction sites and around five people die each year due to accidental contact with overhead power lines. The use of building machinery and equipment can often bring workers close to these lines - the most common accidents involve a vehicle being driven into power lines or part of a vehicle being raised into them. 

Accidents are also often caused by the striking of buried power lines during excavation work. Construction workers can reduce deaths and serious injuries by staying aware of both overhead and underground power lines.

The campaign has been backed by major housebuilders and construction companies such as Taylor Wimpey, who are promoting electrical safety information to their teams as part of ongoing rigorous health and safety training and planning.

Frank Monaghan, health and safety director at SP Energy Networks, said: “The construction industry has resumed work across the country and must carefully adhere to the new COVID-19 safety restrictions. While adjusting to new ways of working, it is still incredibly important for the industry to be aware of electrical hazards on construction sites and the steps that can be taken to avoid accidents.

“Construction sites can be hazardous environments and ensuring the safety of people working on them is paramount. Businesses can prevent incidents by planning ahead, looking around and following guidelines that can keep workers safe. We’re working to raise awareness of the electrical risks, sharing tips on how to prevent accidents, and are providing ongoing support through our emergency hotline and online resources.”

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’. 
  • 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; then ask your workers to save it in their mobiles.
  • Always scan the area you intend to excavate using a Cable Avoidance Tool (CAT) and Genny.
  • If emergency work is being carried out and plans aren’t readily available, excavate carefully as though there are buried live cables. 
  • 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 pose a serious risk for our network of home builders. 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.”

Nicola Barclay, chief executive at Homes for Scotland, said: “The guidance highlighted by this campaign is 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.”

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.”

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