Failure to use a cable locator

An underground 415 Volt electrical supply was damaged during excavation work to provide new sewage drains during office renovation work. A labourer received burns to his torso & arm. The company contacted the local electricity distributor who advised that a locator should be used if digging in the archway. None was used.


The company was prosecuted under The Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulation 1996 (No 12) paragraph 8 and fined.


  1. The company should have asked for plans of the electrical services in the area where excavation work was going to be carried out.
  2. It should have used the plans in conjunction with a cable locator to identify the likely position of underground services.
  3. It should have directed that trial holes be dug to identify the exact positions of services.

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