Safe excavation approach to underground utilities

Safe excavation techniques are quickly becoming an essential process on construction sites and new builds, so we take a look at the process in more detail.

Safe Excavation – Safety First

[one_half] Before breaking ground, construction contractors should consider exactly what is underneath the surface, and what potential hazards their team may incur.
Often plans for the site can help identify underground cables and buried assets that need to be carefully considered before commencing work. For older sites though, that may have been extensively developed over the years, these plans may not provide full visibility of all buried hazards, so contractors should consider a full audit before starting on excavations.
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Safe excavation exposed cables not identified on site plans during a retail park project

safe excavation identifies unknown cables

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Safe Excavation – Every Time

The Health and Safety Executive provides guidance for managing risk around the excavation of underground cables. Their popular HSG47 guidance (read more about “Avoiding danger from Underground Services“) recommends three steps for safe excavation:

  1. Plan
  2. Locate
  3. Safe excavation

Plan the work thoroughly before commencing – draw on site plans and intelligence gathered on site to assess the potential risks, and identify any safety concerns with excavating. Use a ground penetrating radar survey to identify ALL underground cables, and ensure these are clearly marked on the ground prior to commencing work. For those areas where underground hazards have been identified undertake safe excavation methods, such as vacuum excavation, for a no-dig alternative that will reduce the risk of injury or asset damage.

Seek consultation

For complex sites, it is always a good idea to seek advice from safe excavation experts on the best approach to minimise risk to colleagues on site. Often no-dig, trenchless techniques can save time, reduce risk and ensure that construction projects are delivered on time and without any major disruption.

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