Employee burnt whilst breaking concrete

An employee was using a jack hammer to break concrete to enable the removal of a gate post. As he was doing this, the jack hammer hit an underground 415 Volt electric cable and he received minor burns to his face. Plans showing the location of cables had not been used. He had received inadequate information, instruction & training for working near live 415 Volt cables. Injuries could have been much more serious.


The employer was prosecuted under The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (No 4) paragraph 3 and fined.


  1. Before undertaking excavation work, plans of the services in the area should be obtained.
  2. It may be possible to ensure that electrical and other service supplies are turned off for the duration of the work if there is a risk that they will be disturbed.
  3. If supplies are turned off, action should be taken to ensure they are securely isolated for the duration of the work.
  4. Workers should be trained what to do when a service is found during excavation work.

The downloadable HSE booklet Avoiding danger from underground services gives guidance on how to work near underground services.

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Updated 2023-01-09