Reducing The Risk From Underground Electrical Cables

Burying electricity cables is common practice when laying cables within urbanised areas. Placing the direct-buried cables underground reduces disruption during construction and lowers the risk to members of the public. However, it does provide a number of risks for future excavation and third party digging.

In 2010, the dangers of not correctly marking or tiling buried electrical cable were unfortunately brought to light when a construction worker received severe burns to his face, neck and arms after the tip of the ground breaker he was using pierced through a 11kV cable buried around 80cm underground. The tool tip vaporised in a surge of at least 1 million watts causing injury to the worker.

Even recently, in March 2014, a digger bucket came into contact with a 20kV underground electric cable during excavation works in front of a newly built substation. Fortunately both workers avoided injury, but it was a serious enough incident that is sparked a HSE investigation. Andrea Robbins, HSE investigator of the case digger case, stated:

“The construction industry needs to be more aware of the dangers of working in the vicinity of live underground services.”

“Appropriate planning and control measures should always be in place. A failure to do so could result in inadvertent contact with the live cables, the consequences of which can be fatal.”

The dangers of burred cables are well known throughout the industry and products have been developed to reduce the risk to workers unknowingly disrupting electricity supply and risking injury or death. ETS provide a number of different buried cable marking and tiling products from concrete tiles to heavy duty 60micron thick plastic tape tile to aid with the identification of underground cables.

Our vast range of products provide a number of different advantages, not least protecting and reducing the risk of injury and loss of life. Correctly marking cables can help reduce the risk of loss of power supply for end users and tiled cables can improve the impact resistance of the cable to reduce damage during localised digging and disruption.

Using cable markers to identify and protect underground electrical cables offer a significant cost benefit when compared to the time and cost of replacing damaged or severed sections of the cable.

We also supply a traceable underground warning tape which features two stainless steel wires running through it to enable detection by metal detectors prior to any digging, enabling any alterations to be made before work begins.

Ultimately, taking precautions when burying cable can help save time and money during future projects and it could even safe someone’s life.

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