Putting energy into keeping gardeners safe

Little boy and his father gardening in spring. Photo credit: ArtMarie

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With the sun shining and more people spending time outside, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution has teamed up with Energy Networks Association (ENA) to encourage gardeners to stay safe.

While horticultural and home projects increased last year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, so too did safety incidents where underground cables were struck by members of the public working on their gardens and homes, with 408 incidents recorded across SSEN’s regions in Scotland and central southern England.

Fortunately, not all of these incidents resulted in an injury, but each of them had the potential for a more serious, if not fatal, outcome.

This is why it is so important that people stay safe by making sure they are aware of any potential underground cables before they carry out any work that involves breaking ground.

SSEN’s newly updated safety website is a valuable source of information for anyone planning gardening or groundworks.

Ahead of any works, the distribution operator is encouraging people to think carefully about their projects, then ‘click before they dig’ and refer to the guidance on its website at www.ssen.co.uk/safety/home

SSEN and ENA have also issued this advice for gardeners, to help them work safely through spring, summer and beyond:

  • Be aware of the location of underground electricity before digging or excavating;
  • Request location details and plans from energy network companies well in advance of work starting;
  • For bigger projects, use a cable avoidance tool to identify the presence of buried cables before you start to dig and rescan the area as your work progresses;
  • Hand dig — use safe digging techniques to dig trial holes to establish the line and depth of underground electricity;
  • Always assume underground cables are live. If they appear to be damaged, do not approach them and contact your local electricity network operator using the free-to-call 105 emergency number;
  • Take care when lowering the ground levels as there may be underground cables in the area;
  • If you damage an underground electricity cable, vacate the excavation immediately, phone 105 and keep everybody clear.

Information and advice on a variety of safety subjects, including working in the garden, is available through SSEN’s safety website at www.ssen.co.uk/safety/home or customers can call 0800 072 7282 for guidance on any works they are undertaking.