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Construction Safety Tips for Protecting Underground Services



Over the years gone, there have been several accidents which have resulted in a series of strict guidance when it comes to electrical safety and they have been generated by various organizations. However, these are applicable within several industries that are more technical.

What You Need To Know
Underground cables can be damaged easily and when they are, they pose a serious threat to all those who may come in contact with them. They can either seriously injure or kill those who come in contact due to an electrical shock, electrical arcs can be produced and they have the tendency to cause large explosions and even flames. However, this goes on to cause severe burns to a person's body, hands and face even while they are using personal protective equipment.

How Is Cable Damage Caused?
Simply put, cable damage can be caused if the cable is crushed by a powerful machine or heavy objects. They can also be damaged when they are punctured by sharp objects including tools. And if they were damaged before without being properly repaired, they can still cause a series of catastrophic events.

So, if you're interested to learn more, you can use the HSE booklet Avoiding Danger From Underground Sources which provides guidance when it comes to conducting work near cables underground and even how to properly manage the risks involved. Additionally, the publication from the Electricity Networks Association also gives some more advice when it comes to digging around in the presence of electric cables.

What You Need To Do
If you are actually planning to perform work by disturbing the earth, you should take into consideration what underground services you can damage in the process according to Precision UM who offer utility mapping Ireland. Simply put, electrical cables are somewhat hazardous since they readily look like a normal pipe. This makes it almost impossible when it comes to distinguishing whether it is a live one or not.

And, we've said before that when you come in contact with damaged cables, they do cause injury. Additionally, there are also laws in place which clearly indicate that when work is carried out, the relevant precautions must be taken in order to prevent danger. Even excavation work has the potential to damage cables and should be done in a manner which controls the risks attached. The following are applied to excavation work in order to properly manage the risks involved:

*Planning the course of action for work
*Practice safe digging
*Make use of cable locating devices
*Use cable plans

However, most of the cables underground are owned by the Distribution Network Operator while some belong to others including the network rails, the Ministry Of Defence and even the highway authority. As a result, you should always ensure that you check with the previously mentioned firms in order to locate the exact locations of underground cables.

Additionally, if you're in the process of excavating relatively close to your own company's underground cables, ensure that you make contact with someone who is experienced and can aid with possible techniques for locating them. However, keep in mind that you will need to ensure that you turn the electricity off so that work can be carried out in a safe manner. And don't forget that just like with most companies, the electricity company will need at least 5 days in order to disconnect.

You'll need to properly plan and assess all the risks involved before you can get the job started. Risk assessments should also be conducted to determine how the job should be carried out and various circumstances should be also considered.

Using Cable Plans
When it comes to using cable plans, any info about buried services should be utilized along with a proper review. If for some reason emergency work needs to be done and info cannot be found, the job should be done with the thought of live services being within the area. Additionally, there are sometimes symbols on the cables which can vary; so if you come in contact with them, be sure to seek further advice from your local utilities company.

In some cases, both low-voltage and high-voltage cables are illustrated on a separate plan. Simply put, a plan just gives the location and even a number of services within a particular area. So, it is important to trace them with the proper device. 

Cable Locating Devices
Typically, the underground cables should be located before work starts. And they should also be tagged so that they can be identified. Locating devices should be used several times before and even during a job in order to pinpoint the exact location of underground cables. Plans and all other info should be made use of to interpret any signal found.

When it comes to using a locator, ensure that the persons involved are properly trained. However, locating devices should always be used and maintained according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Safe Digging Practices
If you're on the verge of performing some excavation work, be sure to abide by and follow the proper practices. As long as a locating device has been used and both routes and positions are determined, work can now be carried out. Additionally, it is always better to dig along the cable rather than directly above it. And, hand tools can also be used in order to control the job more effectively; don't forget that you should also use insulated tools when working near electricity!