The detection of underground utilities is increasingly important at the outset of any design and construction project as a way of ensuring good health and safety practice, reducing CDM costs and keeping the project life cycle on track and within budget. The striking of something such as an underground electricity cable can not only cause a fatal accident but be detrimental to the length and therefore cost of any project.
Underground services are described as pipes, cables and equipment associated with the electricity, gas, water (including piped sewerage) and telecommunications industries. By understanding what is underground, designers and developers are then equipped with the data to make informed decisions regarding the position of new utilities and what to do with the existing, (possibly densely) packed cabling and pipes, especially in brown and green field sites.
“(Current) Plans can give an indication of the location, configuration and number of underground services at a particular site, and should help subsequent tracing by locating devices. However; they are rarely drawn accurately to scale and, even if they claim to be, they should not be relied upon to obtain distances”
HSE – Avoiding Danger From Underground Services (HSG 47)
It is not enough to assume that current buried asset plans are up to date and show correctly what is underground as they are often inaccurate and in many cases incomplete. Further still, digging trial pits or slit trenches to reveal or confirm what’s underground can be costly and time consuming.
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