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July 11, 2022

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UK’s digging community ‘safer than ever’

The UK’s safe digging community has never been stronger, with 84% of all projects now preceded by a search for underground pipes and cables, according to Digging up Britain 2022.

excavator loader machine at demolition construction siteThe annual safe digging report by LSBUD reveals that a record-breaking 3.4 million search enquiries passed through its collaborative portal in 2021, equating to a search being placed every six seconds.

Richard Broome, MD at LSBUD, comments: “It is great to see so many searches being made. In 2021, we witnessed a ten percent increase on the previous year, which clearly shows that safe digging practices are more resolutely on the agenda than ever before. What’s particularly exciting to see is the increasing awareness among high risk groups, such as the general public and farmers, of the need to search before they dig.”

Indeed, six percent of all searches (157,428) made in 2021 came from private individuals, a 25 percent increase on the previous year. This growth highlights a surge in consumer awareness, and a rise in domestic works projects which have increased by 83 percent according to the Report.

Agricultural works also saw a substantial increase over the year, with the total number of searches increasing from 3,446 to 6,067 – a massive 76% boost.

When it comes to accidents at home, or out in the field, of all the safety-related digging incidents reported to the HSE in 2021, just 41 were recorded as injuries, with none being fatal. This represents a 48 percent decrease on 2020, and signifies that the educational safe digging message is truly gaining momentum.

Richard Broome adds: “This is excellent news and is promising to see. It suggests more precautions are being taken to reduce injuries and that the messaging behind reporting incidents is getting through to companies.

“While this is good news, not every incident is reported to the HSE. We still don’t have enough clarity on the number of incidents which means that we are missing out on vital information that can help the sector minimise dangerous incidents from happening in the future”.

The Digging up Britain data shows that searching on LSBUD’s portal before digging has become a habit. Richard concludes: “Not only is it common practice across industries, but it is now much more common amongst the general public and highly vulnerable groups, such as farmers too, which is great to see. This is significant because the volume of digging work across the UK is set to boom in 2022 and beyond with the Government striving to reach its 5G, broadband and EV targets and farms diversifying. The more people that search before they dig now, the safer we stay as a nation, even when more works are taking place. Remember, search before you dig.”

Click here to download a copy of Digging up Britain 2022.

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