Any contractor undertaking excavations of any description must be aware of the possibility, or indeed the likelihood, of underground cables and utilities that are at the precise point, or very close to, where the excavation has to take place. In fact, the problem should be approached from the point of view that there are very likely to be underground utilities and cables, rather than the fact that it is unlikely.

We have said this before, but just because you need to dig in a field which is currently full of sheep doesn’t mean that there may not be underground utilities there. The field could just be the shortest way between remote villages, and that is why the utility company laid the electricity cables using it as a shortcut.

You would think that, knowing that, cable strikes would be rare, but the fact is that there are around 230 of them every working day, or about 60,000 a year up and down the country. Some of these result in serious injury, and there are even about a dozen fatalities every year as a result of hitting underground utilities. Some, such as water pipes, are relatively harmless, but striking an electric cable or gas pipe can have horrific consequences.

Even if there are no injuries caused, the economic results can be disastrous. At the very least, the contractor has men standing around doing nothing until the utility has sent a team out to restore the damaged pipes or cables. But this can get worse, because the main contractor may fine the sub-contractor for the delay, and there may be claims from other businesses affected by the loss of supply. Add to that the claim for damages from people injured, sometimes with devastating results, and the amount can run into the hundreds of thousands. And all because there was an underground utility that nobody spotted.

This is why professional cable avoidance training is critical for contractors engaged in any sort of groundwork. At Sygma Solutions we provide the most high-level training in cable avoidance techniques in the UK that is available. Our courses teach operatives every aspect of the use of the CAT and Genny, and most importantly teach their limitations. As a very simple example, if you use a CAT on its’ own, it can only locate electricity lines if there is power running through them. So if you search a street at night when the streetlamps are on you will find them, but during the day you probably will not. This is why operatives need first class training in order to ensure the best outcome.

Courses Availability

Public Cat & Genny Training can also include Proqual Level 2 if requested

15th February,  22nd March,  26th April,

24th May,  21st June,  26th July

Sygma PAS 128 Utility Surveyor Training Including Proqual Level 3 Utility Mapping and Surveying

18th February,  25th March,  29th April

20th May,  24th June,  22nd July

19th August,  23rd September,  21st October

18th November,  09th December

2 Day Electromagnetic Advanced Locator Course Covering RD8000/RD8100 & Vivax Vloc

27th & 28th February

3 Day Learn GPR Training with Dan Bigman

06th – 08th March

Please contact: for current availability and booking form


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