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Safety Warning After Recent Utility Strikes

An increase in the number of utility strikes around the network recently has prompted a new safety warning and reminder to follow the correct safe systems of work procedures.

Every year many people are seriously injured due to contact with underground utility services, so it is vital that all relevant Svella Connect workers know the proper safety procedures to follow at all times.

Gary Thistlethwaite, Svella Connect’s Safety & Risk Director, said: “Every utility strike is a concern and a danger and every utility strike can be avoided by taking simple precautions.

“By knowing how to operate a CAT and genny and using them on every job, workers can significantly reduce the danger to themselves and colleagues and minimise the chances of network disruption.”

A CAT and genny is a cable avoidance tool and signal generator that is used to locate cables, reduce the likelihood of cable strikes, and pave the way for safer excavation.

Here is a reminder of the recommended procedures and safety advice when dealing with various types of underground services:

Gas: Check the gas company plans before digging. Dig carefully by hand to establish the location of pipes and mark the route of all known pipes. Remember gas is flammable and explosive. At the slightest hint of gas escape, leave the area and do not smoke. Call the gas company and emergency services. The gas emergency services number is 0800 111999.

Modern, smaller diameter house mains are often plastic. Don't confuse them with electric cables. Follow the gas company specifications for back-filling.

Water main: Trace the line of the main by trial pits and mark the route of all known pipes. Burst pipes can fill an excavation quickly. If damaged, call the water company. Remember, water at high pressure could be dangerous. Don't leave a length of pipe unsupported.

Sewers: There is a severe health risk if a foul sewer is fractured – leave the excavation and report it. Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) due to the risk of contamination from sewage. Wash your hands before eating or smoking. If you break a storm water sewer and rain is falling, vacate the excavation as flooding may occur.

Cables: Most cables are in trenches 450mm-1m deep but cables can be found at shallower depths and some high-voltage cables may be deeper. A cable is positively identified only when it has been safely exposed. If an unexpected cable is identified, contact the regional distribution network or other relevant party.


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