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Be aware of hidden electrical cables on roofing and cladding jobs

Builders, carpenters and roofers need to be aware of electrical safety risks when drilling into roofing and cladding materials.

A worker was injured recently when he drilled into an electricity mains cable while installing new metal flashing around a hole in the roof.

The worker received burns to his hands and forearms as a result of an electrical arc which occurred between the cable and the building material.

The switchboard and mains cable were located on the roof, which is unusual.  But the incident could have been avoided if a risk assessment had been done before work started. It would’ve identified the unusual location of the switchboard and the concealed electrical wiring under the roof surface. To eliminate the risk, the wiring should then have been de-energised before work started.

This incident, and the fact it was something out of the norm given the location of the switchboard and mains cable (on the roof), is a good topic for a toolbox talk to make your workers aware of the risks and make sure they follow safe work practices.

Further information

More information on electrical safety and safety risk assessments is at

Last updated
29 June 2018

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