Safe construction and the electricity network

by | Nov 9, 2022

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A safety message from ESB Networks’ Public Safety Manager Michael Murray

Electricity is the driving force of our economy. It is so much a part of modern living that we often take it for granted. Electricity is delivered across the country using both overhead wires and underground cables.

It is a powerful and versatile source of energy but can be dangerous unless we use safe systems and procedures. Where safety procedures have not been followed, and where construction work has taken place too close to the electricity network, serious accidents have occurred. Sadly, this has included fatalities.

Michael Murray, Public Safety Manager at ESB Networks

Michael Murray, Public Safety Manager at ESB Networks, wants to remind all construction workers to always stay safe and stay clear of all electricity wires and cables. Avoidance of electrical hazards when working near overhead electricity wires.

“The instantaneous power of electricity is such that any accidental contact with live overhead wires, or coming too close to the wires, will cause serious injury – and can even prove fatal,” says Michael.

He points out that the key to avoiding such accidents is to first take account of the safety implications of overhead wires and then plan to carry out work safely and without incident.

“Working directly beneath or close to overhead electricity lines is extremely hazardous and requires that you put special controls in place to ensure you never breach the Safe Exclusion Zone, including requesting ESB Networks to switch out the electricity lines for the duration of the work,” he says.

Michael advises all those involved in construction to refer to the ESB Networks Code of Practice for Avoiding Danger from Overhead Electricity Lines which can be downloaded from

Avoidance of electrical hazards when working near underground electricity cables

Micheal goes on to outline the dangers associated with underground cables. “It is important to always take the essential safety precautions before carrying out digging work, as there often will be buried electricity cables close by,” he says. “It is never safe to disturb or handle electricity cables.”

Before you start digging, ESB Networks advises the following:

• Contact ESB Networks ‘Dial Before You Dig’ service and obtain the relevant, up-to-date cable maps – [email protected] or 1800 928 960

• Complete a Risk Assessment Method Statement (RAMS)

• Remember that service cables and public lighting cables may not be shown on the map. Always assume that there are more buried cables present than you have located

• Look out for any indication of other services such as gas, water, etc

• Ensure a Cable Avoidance Tool is used by a competent operator to locate all services

• Mark the positions of the cables using waterproof crayon, chalk or paint and ensure it is visible to the machine operator

Remember to always stay safe, stay clear of electricity wires and cables.

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