USAG strives to prevent strikes to sub ground infrastructure

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The UK has a useful player in the ongoing battle to prevent damage to underground infrastructure by the many organisations that dig up its roads and pavements.

It’s the Utility Strike Avoidance Group (USAG), a collaborative of over 180 utilities asset owners, industry groups and contractors set up in 2008 that “seeks to ensure the highest standards of safety and best practice when carrying out work on the vital services for our homes and businesses.”

In particular, it exists to help those carrying out work avoid disrupting supplies through accidental strikes on utilities in the ground.

USAG has developeda charter and associated toolkit to help change the way all organisations work around utilities. It says the charter is applicable regardless of the size of the organisation and the toolkit has been designed to give simple tools for all to use. The charter has attracted more than 150 signatories.

USAG says it has become the leading provider of industry knowledge for safe excavation around utilities and has been endorsed by both the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and the UK’s Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH)

However the organisation appears to be in need of some financial commitment from the industry and from its initial very promising beginnings to have lost some momentum.

According to its web site it currently operates on a voluntary basis with no direct funding other than the support offered by member organisations and in particular those who sit on the steering group (PelicanCorp UK sponsors its web site).

The site says: “Whilst there have been considerable achievements with this strategy, to develop the work to extend to wider industry and develop its recognition within the industry would need direct funding. To enable this, there is an opportunity to become a company limited by guarantee in order to enable fundraising to promote its aims and objectives.”

USAG produced useful utility strike damages reports for 2013 and 2014, but has produced none since. In 2015 it held its first, and to date its only, annual conference.

The last meeting of its steering group the minutes of which are presented on its website was held in February 2016.  In August 215 it produced a business plan for 2105-2016, but that does not appear to have been updated.

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