Northern Powergrid



Careful around cables - ShovelNorthern Powergrid, the company that powers everyday life for 8 million people across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, is warning home owners of the dangers of live electricity cables. New research released by the Electricity Networks Association (ENA) suggests that 1.5 million home owners could risk facing life-changing injuries due to a lack of knowledge about how to dig safely in the garden and under their homes, as many attempt DIY outdoor projects during lockdown.

According to Energy Networks Association (ENA), almost one in five (18%) British homeowners have tackled outdoor construction projects in lockdown, with the same amount planning to do so in the next year. Over three quarters (76%) would personally attempt construction projects that require potentially dangerous digging; 22% would pave their driveway; 25% would install their own pond or water feature; and 12% would work on building a home extension.

However, two thirds (67%) of householders do not know how to check for underground power cables, while a quarter (25%) admitted lacking the knowhow to find out. Furthermore, over half (56%) were unaware that underground power lines can be found at any depth, making even the smallest of outdoor projects (like gardening) potentially dangerous.

More than one in ten (11%) say they would attempt to locate underground power lines by digging for them themselves, which could result in an immediate threat to life if the cable has not been de-energised or avoided by adopting safe digging practices. Furthermore, 10% say that if found, they would continue digging provided they didn’t hit any cables.

Underground cables run under the majority of domestic properties, such as houses, shops and offices. While buried and unnoticed, they silently work to power homes with electricity. They can carry voltages ranging from 230 volts to 400,000 volts and, when struck, people can experience life-threatening injuries from severe electric shocks, fires and explosions. 

On average, 70 people suffer life changing injuries each year after accidentally striking underground cables and gas pipes whilst digging. The study by ENA, conducted with 1,000 UK householders, outlines basic safety knowledge gaps could be putting aspiring DIY-ers at risk.

Geoff Earl, Northern Powergrid’s Director of Safety, Health and Environment, said: “The research issued by the ENA is very concerning, with more people attempting DIY project at home it’s extremely important that people make sure they dig safely. 

“Underground electricity cables frequently go unnoticed with no thought given to what’s underneath us, with more than half of UK homeowners having never checked for them before. If uncovered or struck, they can be extremely dangerous and so we’re working with the ENA to urge people to think before they dig and make sure they plan accordingly and take all possible precautions before starting work that involves breaking ground.”

If you’re planning to dig over the coming months, stay safe and plan ahead by following Energy Network Association’s ‘Plan, Scan, Think Before You Dig’ guidance. It easy to access Northern Powergrid cable plans using their free SafeDig service at if in any doubt, contact Northern Powergrid before you start work or call 105 for emergencies.