One reason why groundworker insurance is so vital, is that someone working on the foundations of a project – in effect clearing away the earth, preparing footings and laying pipes – never quite knows what their work might reveal.

The Liverpool Daily Post recently reported that some old City tram lines have been exposed by the Castle Street roadworks. And no doubt will have caused the firm contracted to do the work to glance at their groundworker insurance policy forms.

The Castle Street roadworks is a major improvement project in Liverpool and will be ongoing for some time. The street is undergoing extensive changes and it is being changed into a one-way system to help alleviate traffic at this particular point.

And whilst workmen were digging up parts of the road with a mini-digger, a section of old tram track was revealed. One of the team working on the project told The Liverpool Daily Post:
“We didn’t know the track was there until it was dug up. We were digging out the road to put some Tarmac in, when we saw the tram track. It was quite a surprise to see something which was buried under the road surface for so long.”

Another worker, who could remember the trams operating in Liverpool, said:
“Liverpool used to be swarming with trams. I used to jump on them and seeing this brings back memories. Once they reached the town hall junction, they would either turn left into Water Street, or right into Dale Street.

The unearthed tramline will now be lifted and removed, before the road receives a bed of concrete and is then finally layered with tarmac.

In this case, the unsuspecting unearthing of the tramlines only caused a minor inconvenience, but it’s not always that easy.

Groundworker insurance is there to cover the key areas like public and private liabilities, the safety of workers and other such matters, but it can also help out with the unforeseen.

Tram lines might not have been a problem in Liverpool, but there have been a number of horror stories when companies – working on a fixed price contract to prepare the ground – have come up against unexpected problems. There was one famous incident when a company clearing an old mine was told there were two shafts that needed clearing, but on the site, eventually came across hundreds of shafts which caused millions of pounds of extra work spread over years. The case eventually ended up being settled in the courts as the client argued that the contractor had agreed to ‘all works’ being carried out within the price. The contractor argued that the extra work could not have been foreseen.

But the key thing is, in matters like this, groundworker insurance can help.