Utilities experts at Fisher German are urging workers and the general public to get involved in National Safe Digging Week, running from 21 to 27 September. The week-long initiative has been launched by LSBUD (Linesearch BeforeUdig) to encourage everyone breaking ground to check for utility assets first, to prevent utility strike damage and ultimately save lives.
In its inaugural year, the focus of National Safe Digging Week is ‘Search Before You Dig’ – promoting the use of online search systems for any job, no matter how small. LSBUD is a free, online search system which anyone can use to check for utility assets in an area before carrying out works. The system is a joint venture between Fisher German and PelicanCorp and currently processes over 2.8 million searches every year. With more than 90 members, it is the UK’s most comprehensive utility search system.
Fisher German Partner, and LSBUD Managing Director, Richard Broome, explains: “There is a misconception that safe digging is the responsibility only of those working in the utilities and construction industries; digging is also happening in back gardens, in farms and in fields across the UK every day. Whether you’re planting a tree or putting in a fence post, you need to know what assets are buried beneath your land or property.
Often pipes and cables are closer to the surface than people expect, they can be marked incorrectly or missed off deeds completely. Hitting an electricity cable or water pipe can cause serious injury, neighbourhood disruption and in some cases even death. In addition, the cost to repair damaged pipes and cables is roughly £3,000 per incident, with these costs often being returned to the consumer through their utility bills. The wider economical damage well exceeds this once you factor in disruption and downtime to local businesses, traffic delays while repair works take place and lost working hours – estimated at around £87,000! Imagine the positive financial impact on local areas if these incidents were avoided.
Through National Safe Digging Week it’s therefore our mission to get people to search before they dig to help avoid unnecessary and damaging utility strikes. We encourage all of our clients and partners to get involved by using the hashtag #SearchBeforeYouDig and raising the profile of safe digging.”
The UK has 1.5 million kilometres of pipes and cables underground and LSBUD’s search tool covers more than two thirds of that area – and increasing every year.
To search before you dig, anyone can sign up for a free account and use the LSBUD system to enter a location and check for local assets. After a few minutes, the system will return maps showing all the pipes and cables registered with LSBUD, including contact details for other asset owners not registered with the system."
Richard added: “Searching for assets is quick, easy and free. No matter how small the job is, we strongly encourage you to search before you dig and help us improve safe digging practices across the UK.”
You can read more about Richard’s own near-miss experience here. To get involved in National Safe Digging Week, search for the hashtag #SearchBeforeYouDig, or find out more at linesearchbeforeudig.co.uk/national-safe-digging-week