Power company unveils device to keep builders safe around live cables

Builders safety

The UK’s biggest electricity distributor has unveiled its DigSafe device, a new learning tool designed to reduce accidents where builders come into contact with electrical cables.

UK Power Networks has produced a special cable strike set, using a shovel that was previously involved in a real-life incident, which lights up and creates a realistic bang when an exposed mock cable is hit.

The building trade was involved in the highest number of cable damage incidents in the past year.

UK Power Networks calculated that nearly a quarter of all such accidents with its networks (23%) involved builders.

The new educational tool is designed to prompt conversations about safety and is used as part of a set which can also be converted to show similar dangers around overhead cables. Staff follow up the demonstration with advice around the importance of careful planning.

Builders are urged to request cable plans in advance when carrying out building, construction and excavation work using diggers, lifting equipment, ladders, pneumatic drills and hand tools.

Nathan Hughes, a safety advisor at UK Power Networks, says: “Working as a builder near high voltage electrical equipment, whether that means underground cables, overhead lines or electricity substations can place employers and employees at risk of serious injury – if the risks are not properly considered and time is not taken to plan ahead.

“We regularly focus on safe working with professional and industry groups at events, but it has helped us hugely to have a simple but effective learning tool which demonstrates the impact of a cable strike with such clarity. The set uses a shovel that has actually been involved in a real cable strike and has the scorch marks on it to prove it.

“Alongside this is a model digging site with a safety barrier, where an exposed electricity cable can be deliberately struck. Every time the cable is touched, it sets off a massive bang and flash to replicate what contact with electricity can look and sound like.

“We got a really positive response when we tried out the new set at a recent event, it was a big success and everyone appreciated the importance of the safety message behind it.”


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