Safety When Working Near Underground Electrical Services 

Underground electrical services are an important part of our infrastructure, but they can also be dangerous if not handled with care. If you are working near underground electrical services, it’s vital to take precautions to stay safe.

Dangers of working near underground electrical services 

Underground electrical services carry high voltage electricity. If you contact a live electrical service, you may be electrocuted. Even if you don’t touch the service directly, you can still be electrocuted if you touch something that is in contact with the service, such as a metal pipe or a shovel. 

In addition to electric shock, working near underground electrical services can also pose other risks, such as: 

  • Fire: If an electrical service is accidentally cut, it can cause a fire. 
  • Explosion: If an electrical service contacts flammable materials, it can cause an explosion. 
  • Injury from falling objects: If an electrical service is damaged, it can cause the ground to collapse. This can lead to injury from falling objects, such as rocks or trees. 


How to stay safe when working near underground electrical services 

  • Assume that all underground electrical services are live. Even if the services are not glowing or arcing, they may still be carrying electricity. 
  • Never touch an underground electrical service, even if it appears to be dead. If you’re not sure whether a service is live, call your local utility company to have it checked. 
  • Get a locate before you dig. Before you start any digging project, it’s important to get a locate from your local utility company. This will tell you where underground electrical services are in your area. 
  • Mark the service location with flags or cones. Once you know where the underground electrical services are located, mark the area with flags or cones. This will help to keep people and equipment away from the services. 
  • Use insulated tools when working near underground electrical services. If you must use tools near underground electrical services, make sure to use insulated tools. This will help to protect you from electric shock. 
  • Be aware of your surroundings. If you’re working near underground electrical services, be aware of trees or other objects which could fall if a service is accidentally cut. 
  • If you spot a damaged underground electrical service, stay away from it and call emergency services immediately. Do not try to touch the service or move it. 


Additional safety tips for specific work activities 

  • Paving or excavating: If you’re paving or excavating near underground electrical services, be sure to get a locate from your local utility company and follow their safety instructions. 
  • Backhoe operation: If you’re operating a backhoe near underground electrical services, make sure to use a backhoe with a metal detector. This will help to detect underground services before you dig into them. 
  • Grazing: If you have livestock that grazes near underground electrical services, make sure to take steps to keep them away from the services. You can do this by fencing off the area around the services or using electric fencing. 


By following these safety tips, you can help to protect yourself and others from the dangers of underground electrical services. 

The iProtectU health and safety software provides: 

  • An inspection and Audit App which allows for safety inspection of the workplace and associated report 
  • eLearning on a wide range of EHS topics 
  • Scheduling functionality for managers to send eLearning, risk assessments and documents out to all staff via the software with tracks completion and compliance 
  • Risk assessment templates covering electrical safety 
  • Management system to document control the policy on electrical safety 
  • Method Statement module for the creation of work activity working instructions 
  • Legal register that provides legislation guidance on electrical safety when using work equipment 
  • Incident investigation module that tracks incidents involving underground services both with an app and via desktop 
  • Hazard observation app where staff can report and record any concerns regarding electrical safety when using work equipment to the organisation 
  • Asset management App ensuring assets are recorded in the software 



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