Safety warning to builders after live cables left hanging around

Live cables

Cutting through, or moving live electricity cables is a job for the experts – that’s the warning from an electricity firm after its engineers discovered live cables dumped in a wheelie bin.

UK Power Networks’ teams have seen an increase in the number of live electric cables being left in a dangerous state, for example hanging from a fence, tacked onto a piece of wood, and in a recent case live cabling was found dumped in a wheelie bin where it could kill someone.

The company has warned builders, demolition workers and homeowners to take care and call their network distributor if they want cables moved and a site survey will then be undertaken.

A range of free safety advice is available, including reminders to always plan work, use cable avoidance tools and employ professional electricians to complete tasks.

Last year the number of incidents of interfering with the electricity network tripled. Between April 2022 and March this year there have been over 1,000 instances of interference across London, the east and south east of England. Power workers are now finding unsafe sites on a regular basis.

Electricity surveyor Chris Slattery attends properties where customers have requested alterations to their electricity service, a new connection or an upgrade. He says, “A lot of the jobs have to be reported as dangerous or unsafe because a customer has had a power cable moved. Many customers say they didn’t know the live cables couldn’t be moved by anyone, others say they knew someone who would do it cheaply.”

“I have seen live electricity supplies left hanging off a wall, left on the floor or even left in a wheelie bin! Also a lot of sites we are asked to attend are unsafe because they are a complete mess underfoot, and we have to abort our visit until it is safe to set foot on the site.”

Education and engagement advisor Ros Forbes regularly speaks at industry events to remind site workers to work safely. She says, “The sort of situations that have been discovered, have the potential to cause life changing injuries – or even death.

“A lot of these sites are relatively open to the public so that can result in a danger, not just to the builders on the job and tradespeople who follow them on to the site, but also to members of the public, as well as our own staff.”

“Building tradespeople are a key target for us in order to communicate the safety message,” says Ros. “In their eagerness to crack on with the job, some builders are putting themselves and others at considerable risk, and every accident is wholly avoidable.”

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