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Builders are being urged to prioritise electrical safety after the trade was involved in the highest number of cable damage incidents during the past year.
UK Power Networks which distributes electricity to 8.4 million homes and businesses across London, the South East and East of England, is issuing the warning after finding more than a fifth of all accidents with its networks involved builders.
In 2021 builders were involved in 23% of incidents where members of the public came into contact with electricity cables, more than any other trade.
The company has stressed the importance of pre-planning, by requesting cable plans in advance and avoiding working too closely to live services. One area of concern is private builders carrying out work such as small house builds or extension, laying driveways and excavation work.
Workers could be at risk when carrying out building, construction and excavation work using diggers, lifting equipment, ladders, pneumatic drills and hand tools.
Ros Forbes, a safety advisor at UK Power Networks, said: “Contact with electricity can result in serious burns, impact your ability to work or even result in a fatality. Every year people are seriously injured after contact with electricity. Simple safety steps can save lives.
“Working as a builder near our networks, whether they be underground cables, overhead lines or electricity substations can place employers and employees at risk of serious injury if the risks are not properly considered.
“You can be at risk when using diggers, spades, hammer drills, lifting equipment, ladders and power tools so everybody needs to take the time to plan ahead. It is never worth risking your life to try and save a bit of time.
“UK Power Networks is committed to safety and actively encourages anyone undertaking work close to our network to contact us in advance for advice. We regularly talk to professional and industry groups to remind them about safe working.”
Brian Berry, Chief Executive at the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) said: “Building sites are dangerous environments for many reasons, especially if electrical cables are involved. Health and safety procedures are therefore paramount to the smooth running and safety of a project.
“Builders need to ensure that they are up to date with the latest safety guidelines surrounding live cables and have this drilled into the teams working on site.”
Key advice from the power company’s safety team is to plan ahead: