The voice of the networks

Think Before You Dig

If you are planning any work which involves breaking the ground, think about what services could be buried beneath before you start work. Always assume electricity cables are live and gas pipes are pressurised as damaging one in the ground could be fatal.

site engineers digging along a Winchester road
SSEN

Did You Know?

An average of 70 people a year are seriously injured as a result of contact with underground electricity cables. Nearly half of all cases were reported on public highways, construction sites and industrial buildings making tradespeople at extreme risk of serious injury in the workplace.

Staying safe

When carrying out any excavations or work that involves breaking ground, be aware of how electricity is supplied to a property and prepare to stay safe. Plan, scan, think before you dig.

Plan

  • Plan your work carefully. Work out how you are going to locate utility equipment and avoid the risk of damaging it.
  • Complete a risk assessment before starting work. Identify the dangers and hazards associated with excavations.
  • Request location details and plans from utility companies well in advance of work starting. Remember that these are a guide only and you are responsible for confirming the exact location of all equipment and avoiding damage.
  • Further guidance on gaining copies of utility plans are available via your local electricity network operator.
  • Refer to the LinesearchbeforeUdig website for instant access to plans for our members' underground electricity equipment, as well as underground equipment for other utility companies.

Scan

  • Once you have copies of utility plans, you should scan for the utilities around where you are working so you are aware of their location before digging or excavating.
  • Use a Cable Avoidance Tools (CAT and Genny) to identify the presence of buried cables before you start to dig. Rescan the area as your work progresses.
  • Checks must be made around the job for warning signs of dangers from electricity and other utilities. Look out for signs in the surrounding area, such as meter and fuse boxes, electricity pillar boxes, consumer units, utility indicator markers and manhole covers.
  • Consider hand-digging trial holes to expose the services before using any electric or mechanical excavation tool. Always adopt safe digging techniques to establish the line and depth of underground utility equipment.
  • Take care when lowering the ground levels as there may be underground services in the area.
  • If you damage an underground cable, vacate the excavation immediately, phone your local electricity network operator’s emergency number and keep everybody clear.

Think before you dig

Contact your local network operator

Your local electricity network operator can help with safe digging and cable plans.

Not sure who your local network operator is? Use our postcode finder tool to find who is your operator.

Further information

Help us to raise awareness of the risks of underground dangers and the importance of Plan, Scan, Think Before You Dig! Download our Think Before You Dig! campaign toolkit for a range of information and resources to help you promote this campaign.