SSEN highlights extra safety steps after 20% rise in third-party damage to its network

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) is asking its customers to watch out when cables are about and take some extra safety steps when embarking on projects that involve digging or excavation work.


Across its central southern England patch, SSEN has recorded 445 incidents involving third-party damage to its electricity network in the past two months; a 20% increase compared to the same period last year. 

Several factors seem to have pushed up incident numbers over the summer, asNetworks Operational Safety Manager, Ian Crawley explains: “We know that through our safety awareness campaigns we’re getting more people reporting damage through the free-to-call 105 number and the Power Track app, and we’re really encouraged that our customers are quickly and safely alerting us to incidents they may have been involved in or have seen taking place. 

“We’re also seeing an increase in network damage at domestic properties, where small construction works, fencing and driveway installations and DIY projects have been on the increase in the last few months after a downturn in such projects through spring.” 

Ian added: “We believe our recent warm and dry weather may also have had a hand in pushing up underground cable damage numbers. Across our southern patch, the ground has baked hard through the summer months and a little more force than usual is needed to dig or excavate.  

“If you’re unaware of what lies beneath, that additional force needed to break through the hardened soil  - be that through manual or mechanical means – can be enough to damage cables and potentially cause serious injury.” 

To keep its customers safe, SSEN has produced the following advice to anyone who might be working near to underground or overhead cables:

• Obtain up-to-date underground cable record plans.

• Be aware that underground cables can be found at any depth, even just below the surface.

• Ensure a competent person uses a Cable Avoidance Tool (CAT)

• Mark the location of cables on the ground surface and dig trial holes to determine the exact position before using a mechanical excavator.

• If you find an underground cable embedded in concrete do not attempt to break it out. Contact us for specific advice.

• If you damage an underground cable, vacate the excavation immediately, call 105 and keep everyone clear.


If you are working on a construction project that involves deep digging or excavation, you run the risk of striking an underground cable which can result in serious or fatal injury, so customers are advised to think about the work being planned and contact Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks to check cable locations ahead of starting the job. 

Contact details and further information on staying safe near power cables can be found at: