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    MAJOR CONTRACTOR CALLS ON DESIGNERS TO DO MORE

    Safe digging not enough to reduce underground service strikes

    It has been reported by Construction News and Construction Manager that industry leaders have called for major improvements in management of risk when excavating and working close to underground services.

    Kier Group CEO Paul Sheffield told those at the launch of a new Toolkit: ‘Safe Digging is Not Enough’ that:

    “The injuries caused by the inadvertent striking of underground services and utilities can be devastating, even fatal.

    Importantly, these strikes can be avoided, which is why we are calling on the industry to join us in pursuing a step change in safe digging, supported by the launch of this new toolkit.”

    Speaking to Construction News, Mr Sheffield said:

    “We have to stop and think before we even design service connections and service works under a road. We have to minimise the risk to operatives at the outset of a project.

    We’ve also got to improve communication with the asset owner and work with them to see if these live assets can be switched off or de-energised before we work in dangerous situations.

    If the contractor decides it’s safer to put twice the length in and go down the street first, he won’t get paid for it. The designer and the building owner also have to take ownership.”

    Best practice complement to HSE guidance

    The toolkit follows the publication earlier this year of a revised HSE guidance Avoiding Danger from Underground Services HSG47.

    The tools and documents are freely available and the contribution of the HSE is acknowledged. Users are reminded to refer to the HSE publication HSG 47 (Avoiding Underground Services) which these materials seek to complement.

    The tools provide leadership from within the industry to improve the risk management of work around underground services and signpost best practice (where identified), and provide additional guidance in the avoidance of underground services.

    Advice for clients and designers

    There is a wealth of good practice information available for site works, however particular attention has been given here to the planning and design elements of work in the vicinity of underground services and improving communication between asset owners, clients, designers, planners and contractors

    Specific guidance and a toolkit has been provided for clients and designers, guidance on best practice has been provided on designer competence, liaison with service owners and providers, and in relation to proximity of works to underground services, services buried in concrete, and the permit to work process.

    The materials seek to follow the established (legal) hierarchy of risk management to Eliminate, Reduce, Inform and Control risks (ERIC), with emphasis on planning, design, diversion and isolation and the behaviours around avoiding underground services.

    Barhale chairman Dennis Curran confirmed told Construction News:

    “The follow-on from this now is the most important thing. We have to have the mindset and determination to get [from this toolkit] concept to delivering it. We have to make sure this doesn’t fizzle out.”

     

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