Causes, impacts and costs of strikes on buried utility assets

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


External organisations

  • Barts & London Royal London Hosp
  • Univ Sheffield
  • BP (Global Projects Organisation)
  • Head of Engineering
  • Balfour Beatty Services Division


Preventing accidental damage to buried utilities is a key area that the civil engineering and construction industry is attempting to make progress on. In addition to the health and safety consequences of operatives striking buried cables or pipes, there are numerous other impacts that can occur as a result of the damage. Many organisations collect data on utility strikes and incidents, but these are not shared across the industry. The research reported in this paper is based on unprecedented access to statistics from nine organisations, which provided a total of 3348 incidents to determine any patterns. The key results were that damage to telecommunications or electric cables was the most common; the frequency of incidents peaked between 09:00 and 12:00 on working days; hand tools were the most common excavation tool involved in utility strikes, closely followed by mechanical excavators; and rules not followed contributed to half of the incidents for one organisation. Furthermore, a definitive list of the impacts and costs associated with utility strikes is presented. Repair costs, calculated in the form of an average damage repair cost per utility, have been quantified as electricity £970, gas £485, telecommunications £400, fibre-optic £2800 and water £300–980.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-174
Number of pages10
JournalInstitution of Civil Engineers. Proceedings. Municipal Engineer
Issue number3
Early online date24 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015


  • Excavation/health, safety/infrastructure planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas