ESS Guide to Cable Avoidance Equipment & Training

When performing operations involving underground services, workers need to be aware of the dangers of accidental cable strikes. Strikes can cause life-threatening injuries to workers and result in serious financial damage for companies. Employers have a duty to ensure they are doing all they can to stop this from happening.

To avoid cable strikes, it’s integral for workers to have the right training and equipment for the work they are undertaking. In today’s blog, we take you through some of the basic options available, and look at how Essential Site Skills can help you keep your staff safe.


What is cable avoidance?

Cable avoidance is the process workers must go through to ensure they do not hit any underground pipes or cables when breaking the ground. Cable strikes can cause massive disruption for companies and communities. Hitting underground services can cause serious damage to critical infrastructure in the surrounding area, resulting in large fines being handed to the companies involved. Strikes can also result in extensive delays to projects, damaging the reputation of the company as a whole.

But more importantly, cable strikes are a direct threat to the health and safety of workers. Electricity, fire and water are all major dangers to anyone working around underground services, with strikes resulting in serious, and sometimes fatal, injuries to workers. Having the right equipment and training are vital to reducing the chances of accident and injury.


Cable avoidance in 2020

ENA logoRecent figures show that 2020 has been a particularly bad year for cable strikes. From July to September, there were 475 incidents of underground powerline strikes, a massive jump of 20% when compared to the same period in 2019. The disruption caused to the industry by the coronavirus has been linked to this steep rise in accidents.

To help raise awareness of the issue, the Energy Networks Associations (ENA) have created the Think Before You Dig campaign. This campaign breaks down the process of cable avoidance checks into six simple steps:

  • Plan ahead – Always be mindful of what services lie below ground when digging or excavating. Ask utility companies for plans in advance.
  • Assess the risks – Identify the dangers and hazards associated with excavations and put controls in place to manage them.
  • Scan and locate – Take care when digging, always locate underground cables before digging with the use of cable avoidance tools.
  • First, use your hands – Before using any electric or mechanical excavation tool, you must consider hand-digging trial holes to expose the services
  • Always assume, that underground cables are live even when damaged.
  • Know who to call – In case of an emergency dial 999 and tell them electricity is involved. Call 105 if you have a safety concern related to the electricity network or if you spot damage to underground cables and substations that could put you, or someone else, in danger.

For a full guide of the latest legislation for cable avoidance operations, check out the HSG47.


What can a cable avoidance tool detect?

Depending on the types of services you are trying to identify, there are a range of tools available with different signal detection options to suit your needs. All models of the C.A.T4 (category 4 cable avoidance tool) we sell can detect the following signals:

  • Power Signals. Generated by loaded power cables.
  • Radio Signals. Found travelling through buried metallic cables and pipes.
  • Genny Signals. Produced by a genny to actively apply a locate signal to pipes or cables. 


Where can I buy a cable avoidance tool?CAT4 & Genny

At ESS, we sell a variety of top-end cable avoidance equipment including C.A.Ts, gennys, and other related accessories. Our online shop is stocked with a variety of equipment so you can find the right tool for you.


C.A.T4 & Genny

Our C.A.T4 models come in three main varieties: 

  • C.A.T4. The most basic model of cable avoidance tool that we sell. Can detect power, radio and genny signals.
  • eC.A.T4. Includes all the features of the C.A.T4, but with the inclusion of data logging, allowing the tool to be directly connected to a computer to analyse stored information.
  • gC.A.T4. Includes all the features of the eC.A.T4, but also features GPS capabilities to more accurately track the movements of the equipment.

All these models also come in '+' varieties. The '+' indicates the equipment can detect depth, allowing users to locate underground services with more accuracy. In addition, there are many additional features available on certain models to suit your needs. Take a tour of the cable detection section of our shop to find the right one for you.

On our online shop, you can also buy the SPX Genny 4 Signal Generator separately or as part of a package. These kit bundles also come with useful accessories such as carry cases and additional cables. This includes the SPX Builders Accessory Pack, and the SPX Genny4 and Bag Pack, both of which offer great convenience and value.


Other Cable & Pipe Locators

We also provide the RD7100 and RD8100 range of locators. These are more advanced locators which are often designed to find specific types of signal. Some of these tools may require more advanced training to use. Browse a wide range of options on our shop to learn more about the different features of each.


Cable avoidance training:

While having the right equipment is essential to ensure you can perform cable avoidance work efficiently, this equipment is only useful in the right hands. To use these tools effectively, workers need to have completed the necessary level of training. At ESS, we provide expert cable avoidance training for basic operators and managers:


Cable Avoidance – Basic OperatorCable Avoidance Basic Operator

This course is aimed at workers who perform cable avoidance operations on site. Training develops all the necessary theoretical and practical know-how required for workers to locate underground services in a variety of environments. Learners will get hands-on time operating the C.A.T4 and genny and be guided through the principles of location and avoidance of underground services.

This half-day course can be delivered by ESS through in-company training. This can save businesses time, money, and hassle when getting their workers trained. Upon completing the course, learners will be issued with an ESS certificate and a White Basic Operator ID card which is valid for three years.


Cable Avoidance for Managers- Managing, Planning and Permit CourseCable Avoidance Manager

The Cable Avoidance for Managers course is for anyone who has functional responsibility for controlling underground service risks on a construction site, such as site supervisors, site managers, project managers, safety managers.

This course takes place over a full day. Learners will be issued an ESS certificate and card upon completion, valid for three years.


How do I book my course?

If you are interested in any of our courses, you can book online by visiting the relevant course page on our website. To see a full list of the courses available, visit our online index.

If you have any further questions, you can contact our training team directly by calling 0115 8970 529. You can also send your enquires over email by contacting info@essentialsiteskills.com.


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