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Underground cables

Working near to underground services

Underground service cables, especially cables containing electricity and gas, can be extremely dangerous.

Cables that are damaged from excavation or penetration of the ground (e.g. by a road pin) can cause serious injury.

  • Damage to electricity cables can cause a dangerous flash, leading to severe burns or even death.
  • Damage to gas pipes can cause gas leaks leading to fire and explosion.

Underground services may be commonly found in roads, footpaths, on sites or across open land. Always assume that they are present and treat any cable as 'live'.

Electrical accidents

Be aware that one service can often be mistaken for another, leading to dangeous sitautions, for example:

  • Black plastic covered electricity cables can look like plastic water pipes.
  • Cast iron gas can look like water mains.

Always check before you act!

Health and safety guidance

Please read health and safety executive guidance document HS(G)47 'Avoiding Danger from Underground Services' before commencing work on site; providing excellent detailed advice on staying safe from the hazard of underground services.

Download this leaflet free of charge from the HSE website

Before starting work you must:

  • read our safety guidance leaflet;
  • make sure you have plans of the underground services in the area which  may not always be possible for emergency or unforeseen works.

Remember that service connection cables from the main to a building or a street lamp may not be shown.

To obtain plans of our network phone us on 0800 195 4749 or email: [email protected]

When you start work:

Services are sometimes protected by concrete polythene or earthenware tiles or a marker tape may be laid above the service - this is a useful indication of the presence of the service, you should avoid disturbing any tile or tape to expose the service if possible.

There are however, many services in existence that have no tiles, tapes or other physical indication of their

View our Guidance for Electrical Contractors

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We appreciate that some customers have additional requirements and may have circumstances where a priority service is needed for a variety of reasons.

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Find answers to questions about Electricity North West, including details on electricity connections, power cuts and general enquiries.

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Major incident

Engineers are working to restore power to properties after severe flooding in Lancashire and Rochdale.

We are doing everything we can to restore power and we'll update you regularly on our news section and TwitterFor emergencies, please call us on 0800 195 4141.