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Health and Safety Advisory

Work carried out to and within public sewers is hazardous.

There are risks which can be life threatening, life changing and damage may be caused, potentially resulting in flooding.

Some examples are:

  • Collapse of inadequately supported excavations
  • Accidents which may occur when works, or access to works, are located in highways
  • Disruption of services, when other service company cables or pipes are damaged
  • Explosive or poisonous gases which may be encountered in confined spaces
  • Slips and falls due to the inherent nature of sewage and the damp conditions within chambers
  • Failure of access arrangements such as ladders and step irons, which may be corroded or otherwise defective
  • Leptospirosis, Weils disease, which can be developed through contact with rat urine
  • Dropped manhole covers, which can damage benching
  • Obstructions to flows when debris, generated by cutting pipes or breaking into chambers, is not fully removed


The above list is not exhaustive and hence Southern Water requires that:

  • It is notified of the proposed works in a timely manner, to allow the proposed necessity, means, mode and method of works to be reviewed
  • It is notified of the location and date and time of proposed works, so that supervision and inspection can be arranged, if considered necessary and that should emergency measures be required, that these can be efficiently implemented. Should the proposed date and time of works change then Southern Water must be advised and approval given for the change
  • It is satisfied that the works will be carried out in a safe controlled manner, with the risk of damage or flooding, reduced to the minimum practicable
  • It is therefore important that works to the public sewer network are only carried out by a skilled and competent workforce, fully experienced in such work and suitably equipped and protectively clothed, for the nature of the work to be carried out.


Reference should be made to National Health and Safety requirements, in addition to any requirements that Southern Water may have.

Southern Water will not approve or give permission for the following works to be carried out by the applicant, directly or by third parties on behalf of the applicant, unless notified and approved by Southern Water:

  • Installation of flow monitoring equipment.
  • CCTV or other surveys, which require access within the public sewers.
  • New or modified connections under a S106 application.
  • Alterations to be carried out as a S185 Developer diversion.
  • Alterations carried out as a Build Over.
  • Entry into manholes, inspection chambers or ancillary structures or apparatus for the purpose of carrying out:- 

    – inspection
    – identification
    – examination
    – installation
    – or other purpose. 


Southern Water recommends that the applicant should seek and take the advice of their own Health and Safety advisor, at all stages of their proposed works, from initial design to completion of construction.

Southern Water requires that the applicant confirms that this document has been fully read, considered and understood and complied with, prior to carrying out any works.

Southern Water notes that any unauthorised access, or works to its public sewers, will not be tolerated and will be considered trespass.

Southern Water will accept no liability for the consequence of any such access or works and will seek full compensation for itself and its customers, for any direct or consequential damage or injury.

 
 
 
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