Digging in the British Construction Industry now safer than ever
The UK’s safe digging community has never been stronger, with 84 percent of all projects now preceded by a search for underground pipes and cables, according to Digging up Britain 2022.
The annual safe digging report by LSBUD reveals that a record-breaking 3.4 million search enquiries passed through its collaborative portal in 2021, equating to a search being placed every six seconds.
Further to this, 2021 saw a substantial increase in the number of construction-related searches being placed, with ‘development projects’ ranking highly. In fact, there were 88,445 searches registered for development projects, a 27 percent rise on the previous year.
Richard Broome, MD at LSBUD, comments: “It is great to see so many searches being made. In 2021, we witnessed a ten percent increase on the previous year, which clearly shows that safe digging practices are more resolutely on the agenda than ever before. What’s particularly exciting to see is the increasing awareness among high risk groups, such construction companies, contractors and the general public, of the need to search before they dig.”
As with previous versions of the Digging up Britain report, the majority of digging work was undertaken on behalf of the telecoms sector, followed by the water industry. These two sectors accounted for 77 percent of all digging work in 2021.
With home improvements on the rise, the Government’s renewed focuses on broadband and 5G, and more people are driving electric vehicles than ever before, it is clear to see why the telecoms sector has such a significant impact on the UK’s digging habits.
Whilst there is much to cheer about within the 2021 data, there are still a couple of challenges the safe digging industry must overcome to better protect the UK’s underground network of pipes and cables, and those working near them. Firstly, the Digging up Britain report aims to dispel the myth that the safe digging community is disjointed and not working together effectively. This is something being portrayed by the Geospatial Commission in a bid to fulfil its own agenda. In doing this the Commission is potentially undermining confidence in a system which is not only protecting assets but also lives.
The second challenge is encouraging water companies to share their data. The sector once again remained the worst-performing when it comes to disclosing pipeline information. Just 15 percent of water companies currently subscribe to the LSBUD portal. In contrast, the gas and electricity sectors currently have 90 and 92 percent representation respectively.
The Digging up Britain data shows that searching on LSBUD’s portal before digging has become a habit. Richard concludes: “Not only is it common practice across the construction industry, but also all industries, which is great to see. This is significant because the volume of digging work across the UK is set to boom in 2022 and beyond with the Government striving to reach its 5G, broadband and EV targets, farms diversifying and the construction sector back up to speed post-pandemic. The more people that search before they dig now, the safer we stay as a nation, even when more works are taking place. Remember, search before you dig.”
To download a copy of Digging up Britain 2022, visit lsbud.co.uk/digging-up-britain-report.