Risks associated with working on or near lamp columns with non-standard roots during excavation works

Health and Safety Executive - Safety alert

Department Name:
Construction Sector

Bulletin No:
FOD 5-2010

Issue Date:
15 July 2010

Target Audience:
Local Authorities, Highways Authorities, Utilities Companies. Construction Contractors engaged in street and road works Industries - Construction, Gas, Services, Local Authorities and Utilities

Key Issues:
Risks associated with working on or near Lamp Columns with Non-Standard Roots during excavation works.


In February 2010 a young child was killed and a woman injured when a lamp column fell on them. The lamp column fell outside the boundary of a site where street works were taking place.


Typical Non Standard Root Designs
Figure 1 - Typical Non Standard Root Designs - (Courtesy of ASLEC-HEMSA, from original drawings courtesy of CU Phosco Lighting)

The lamp column was of a non-standard root design being a cranked root where the foundation is offset from the lamp column. Normally such root designs are employed to avoid existing underground services or obstructions. These designs are relatively uncommon and may account for approximately 2% of lamp columns installed in the UK, although they may be concentrated at higher levels in areas where there are significant underground obstructions. The failure of the lamp column was as a direct result of a cut made through a horizontal connection between the column and its foundation.

Action required:

Local authorities, organisations in control of lamp columns, utilities and contractors engaged in street and road works should ensure that they are aware of the types of non-standard lamp column root design. The most usual types are cranked root with a horizontal plate, cranked root using angled sections of tube of the same diameter as the base, and base plate - examples are shown in Figure 1 above.

Local authorities and other organisations responsible as asset owners or managers for lamp columns should ensure that information in their possession about the type of foundation of non-standard root lamp columns (such as that held in asset management systems), or which is readily obtainable, is provided promptly to persons designing street and road works and to organisations and contractors appointed to carry out street and road works.

Organisations designing street and road works should ensure they make suitable enquiries of the lamp column asset owner to ascertain whether a non-standard root may be present. This information must be passed on in a timely manner to contractors or others carrying out the works.

Before any work is carried out in the vicinity of non-standard root lamp columns (which may be evident only once excavation has commenced) it should be planned, discussed and agreed with the local authority or other asset owner. Care must be taken to ensure that excavation works in the immediate area around the lamp column do not compromise its stability causing danger to the workforce and public.

In particular, care should be taken to ascertain the nature of any unidentified or unusual object encountered during street and road works excavation before any action is taken to disturb or modify it.

Relevant legal documents:

  • Health and Safety at Work etc Act (1974)
  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999)
  • Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (1998)
  • Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (2007)

Guidance document:

General note:

Please pass this information to any colleague who may have responsibility for lamp posts or road or street excavation works.

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