How to Manage Electrical Risks during an Underground Cable Installation?

March 27, 2020

All projects that involve laying electrical cable underground must be performed safely. Since this type of project can pose risks to people, objects or even plants if any of them come too close to the underground cable, the installers must know how to manage the electrical risks efficiently. For this reason, we provide you some suggestions on how to accomplish this successfully.

Possible Risks with Underground Electrical Cables

The main risk of working on or near the installation of underground electrical cables is coming into contact with exposed live parts of the cables. Some examples include:

  • Plumbers cutting and laying conductive water pipe as part of the electrical earthing system for the cable.
  • A fencing crew digging holes and installing posts in the same place a cable is buried.
  • Driving pickets or other elements into the ground at the electrical cable’s underground location.
  • Using metal tools, such as shovels, forks, spades and hammers, on the site of existing electrical cables.
  • Plumbers and contractors excavating a trench to locate underground water pipes.
  • Mobile heavy vehicles or cranes becoming stuck over the electrical cables where shock may occur.

Injury or Damage Can Occur From Contact with Live Underground Electrical Cables

Typically, injuries or damage can occur when workers accidentally come into contact with live electrical cables underground. Electric shock can course through someone’s body or arc to cause fires. If a gas source is nearby on the latter, an explosion even can happen and cause disastrous results.

How to Manage and Avoid Electrical Risks

  • Prior to starting an underground electrical excavation project or construction project in the area where electrical cables are located, you must perform a risk assessment in order to manage and avoid issues.
  • After performing the risk assessment, companies and people need to contact “Dial Before You Dig”, which is a free service that provides pertinent location information about underground utilities, including electrical cables, all across Australia. You can either do this by phoning 1100 or by visiting the service’s website at and sending in an online enquiry.
  • You also need to contact any local authorities, such as communication companies, electricity supply companies, government agencies and water companies, about their cables or other elements that are in the same area of your project.
  • In certain cases, you must obtain permission from owners of private property to perform your underground electrical cable installation.

On top of performing the above tasks to manage electrical risks during an underground electrical cable installation, be certain that all your workers wear the right protective gear and follow all safety procedures. This is the only way to avoid unwanted issues and dangers.

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