Safety Bulletins

Underground services

Underground services are encountered more frequently in forest operations due to urban forest activity and renewable developments in the rural setting.

Forest Works Managers should follow the guidance for underground services in FISA 804. FWMs should seek the local network or other UG service guidance and HSE guidance on underground services. For example, the Energy Network Association guide starts with:

  • Make sure you have current copies of underground cable record plans from the electricity network operator. If you cannot find underground cables shown on the plan never assume they are not there — contact your electricity network operator.
  • Make sure that a competent person using a Cable Avoidance Tool (CAT) locates all of the cables shown on these plans.
  • Mark the location of cables on the ground surface.
  • Hand-dig trial holes to find the exact position of underground cables before you use a mechanical excavator.

Increasingly peat depth probing is taking place within forest areas. NatureScot (SNH) Peat Depth Guidance reinforces the dangers of both underground and overhead services with:

  • Check that there are no overhead cables or underground utilities, on no account use peat probes near power lines or buried utilities, and
  • Do not walk around the site with an extended peat probe.

The risk assessment must address the presence of underground services and overhead lines. Other areas of the assessment should include manual handling, lone working route planning and very wet ground.

The HSE Guide “Avoiding danger from underground services” is available below.

FISA Working Group on Electricity and Utilities will further review guidance on underground services.

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