Lustre Consulting has an obligation to our staff, subcontractors and the public to ensure that all our work is carried out safely. Our commitment to health and safety is endorsed as a registered member of CHAS, a SSIP approved Health and Safety scheme and also a member of Constructionline.
One of biggest dangers encountered during site investigation work is the striking of live underground services. It is important to remember that you can never remove the risk entirely and one working on-site must always remain on guard, but you can lessen the risk significantly by being diligent and introducing a safe systems of work. Over the years, some of our staff have had to endure one or two incidents and near-misses that could have been avoided if others had provided the correct information and spent a relatively small amount of time and money undertaking simple due-diligence.
The industry has good guidance, tools and specialist contractors who are available to lessen the risk. However it is the responsibility of clients, their agents and the property and construction industry as a whole to ensure that that work is being undertaken as safe as possible. It is important to remember as a legal requirement under the recently updated Construction (Design and Management Regulations) 2015 that even greater emphasis has been placed on everyone, including Clients, both commercial and domestic, Principal Designers, Designers and Contractors to pull together pre-commencement information, including information on services.
In essence, the HSE Guidance (HSG47) Avoiding Danger from Underground Services explains the three basic elements of a safe system of work during any intrusive works:
Planning the work
Locating and identifying buried services
At Lustre, the process of service clearance starts from the outset during the initial planning stage, normally when we are preparing a quotation. We always ask for available plans and any anecdotal evidence of services. We always remind clients of their duties to notify us and an allowance is included for specialist service clearance contractors. If detailed, up to date survey plans are available our experienced Environmental Consultants can use the plans to clear the services along with the use of a Cable Avoidance Tool (CAT), visual inspection and if required by careful hand dig pitting. All our consultants are experienced in observing evidence such as scars in the hardstanding, manhole covers, service inlet points etc. Our staff also attend training courses in correct use of CAT scans. We would always recommend the services of a specialist service clearance contractors, even if limited service plans are available as it not only best lessens the risk, but may also reduce potential for significant damage costs and delays to projects. Service identification can often be tied up with a site topographic survey and sometimes, they may unearth hidden gems such as historic underground tanks or structures which can be valuable information.
Service clearance doesn’t stop with the specialist contractors. Our Consultants and appointed drilling contractors have experience in monitoring intrusive works. Where uncertainties are raised, we will suspend the investigation and re-locate.
Finally – you should avoid carrying out service clearance in the snow! We have a winter blog (http://www.lustreconsulting.com/Blog) for more details and sites need to be clear as possible of obstructions such as vehicles, plant, materials etc. Otherwise things may be missed.
For more information on service clearance and to download a free copy of the HSG47 guidance go to http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg47.htm