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Pipelines and Cables

Designers Knowledge Base

Includes building pipes carrying water, sewage, gas, oil etc. or used for the protection of cables such as power, telephone, television and other communications cables.


In designing for pipelines and cables the designer should be aware of, and assess the risks from, the following principal hazards.

Some principal hazards and risks

  • hazards of working in confined spaces such as harmful gases and lack of oxygen
  • hazards from services both underground and overhead and including electricity, gas, sewers etc.
  • health hazards caused by noise, dust, sewage and other effluent, contaminants in the ground and water borne diseases such as Weil's Disease
  • falls from height such as into trenches and excavations, from plant and equipment and from suspended cable locations
  • struck by falling object such as trenches collapsing and objects falling
  • contact with moving vehicles when working in access chambers in the highway or when vehicles stray into working areas


Ensure a site survey is carried out to ascertain site conditions and determine whether special precautions are required if work is adjacent to structures, roads, railways or near water. Investigate any interface with existing utilities and services.

Some design options to reduce hazards

  • examine available data to determine the benefit of tracing or surveying any existing services
  • ensure the route avoids existing services and minimise the possibility of disturbance by other construction activity
  • design to provide for easy location and access to make future connections
  • attempt to provide easy safe access for future maintenance whilst denying access to unauthorised persons
  • attempt to choose details which anticipate future technological change

See Also