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What Happened / Impact?

Task in hand: Laying a 180mm OD HDPE pipe through an urban area – a daily activity for the Contractor.

In line with safe systems of work:

  • The relevant utility companies were contacted in advance of the works and the relevant utility drawings received.
  • The Site Team did not take the utility drawings for granted and had their SOLAS LUGS (Location of Underground Services) team member scan the ground using a CAT 4 PLUS. Additional underground services were encountered, and the ground was subsequently marked appropriately, indicating the location of the known and newly located services.
  • A Permit-to Dig was completed for the location and signed by relevant personnel.
  • A RAMS was in place and signed off by relevant personnel.
  • An SPA (Safe Plan of Action) that included the underground services were completed and briefed.
  • The SOLAS certified excavator operator and competent work crew exposed all underground services.
**Green line: Redundant cable ‘snaking’ through trench. Yellow circle: ESB Duct

**ESB Duct crossing trench

**Line of redundant cable crossing ESB Duct.


Why it Happened?

  • The site had encountered a known and confirmed redundant 50mm copper cable at various stages along the pipeline. The troublesome section of the redundant cable had been cut out using a consaw.
  • Being aware of the services and the services being visible, in an effort to ‘get the job done’, GO proceeded to cut the redundant cable. A small quantity of earth obscured the GO’s sight of the ESB duct and as pressure was exerted on the 50mm cable, the ESB duct was cut. Unfortunately, the duct contained 3nr. Cables resulting in the 10KVa cable resting flush to the internal wall of the duct. The 10KVa cable was cut.


Immediate Learnings / Recommendations

  • Thankfully no-one was injured in this incident as the centre aluminium conductor was not cut, but we should use this as a reminder that with all the necessary systems in place, our safety and that of our colleagues relies on our awareness of safety, our attitude to safety and our actions.
  • NOTHING is more important than ensuring that everyone goes home safely every day.

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