Motion 1. Safety of Dig Teams

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2013 Water, Environment & Transport Service Group
15 February 2013
Carried as Amended

With ever more private companies laying electric cables and gas pipes on new build sites and companies being bought out or going bankrupt, the health and safety of dig teams on water contacts are being jeopardised because there is no central database. Buried services may belong to utilities, commercial sites, industrial sites or the military. There may be more than one owner/operator in an area. The most up to date source of company information is the Energy Supply Handbook 2012 selling at £144 a copy. The workers at risk belong to companies like Morrisons and UU and these workers are UNISON members who are in our water branches.

For these members to be safe and avoid danger from underground services the following are required:-

1) Plans or other suitable information about all buried services in the area should be obtained at the planning stage before any excavation work starts. These plans should be up-to-date, easily understandable and show the recorded line and depth of all known services buried. A universal symbol key could be adopted for simplicity.

2. The use of ‘one-call’ systems is recommended with information available at short notice. As a number of applications are likely to be routine this should be possible. Arrangements should be put in place to deal with emergencies out of office hours. Where owners/operators are reluctant to supply copies of their underground plans for reasons of security an alternative system such as a rep being sent to the site may be possible.

We request that the WET Executive liaise with their contacts in the energy sector and other unions to push for the setting up of a central body to administer the holding and dissemination of safe dig drawings to other utility services so that the health and safety of this often forgotten group of members in the water industry is improved.