Are you thinking of having a new fence installed?

A very important bit of advice to remember before you erect a new fence – be careful of what lies under the ground. Do you know what’s under foot?

We don’t always consider the things that we can’t see buried under the ground. There could be important cables and pipes where you are intending to dig. Most of our vital services are buried underground – high voltage electricity cables, natural gas pipelines, communication cables, sewer and water.

Irrespective of size, any excavation work has the potential to damage assets located around the worksite, leading to service interruptions, costly repairs and in the worst-case scenario, injury or death. How do you find underground pipes?

Extensive networks can be closed down for long periods with serious consequences of disruption and may incur penalties. The repair and replacement can be very costly.

Organisations or excavators have a duty of care to locate underground assets that are in the vicinity of any worksite, prior to any work commencing.

How to find underground pipes and cables?

To minimise the risk of damage, injury and potential loss of life, it is recommended as Industry best practice to undertake the 5Ps of safe excavation:

 1  Plan   >   2  Prepare   >   3  Pothole   >   4  Protect   >   5  Proceed

For the complete details of the Dial Before You Dig Best Practice guide please proceed to the Dial Before you Dig Website.

1.   Plan

To mitigate your risk, you should engage a Dial Before You Dig (DBYD) Certified underground service locator, such as 123 Locate It.

123 Locate It provides asset location services. When you engage 123 Locate It, we access and can provide DBYD plans for your work area or site.

(Disclaimer: Dial Before You Dig does not hold plans or detailed information regarding infrastructure assets. Enquiries are referred by DBYD directly to the registered asset owners, who register and update their areas of interest with DBYD, who in turn respond with the appropriate information. The information is only as accurate as that provided by the Asset owner).

2.   Prepare

123 Locate It, as DBYD Certified underground service locators will:

  • Interpret the DBYD plan;
  • Identify and locate DBYD Member assets;
  • Where possible identify and locate any DBYD non-member or unrecorded assets existing on site (e.g. domestic gas / power lead-ins are generally not recorded on DBYD utility plans even though the asset owner might be a DBYD member);
  • Provide results on located services to AS 5488 – 2013 specifications;
  • Can provide locating assistance during potholing;

3.   Potholing

Once 123 Locate It has located and marked the services, it is your responsibility to carry out potholing:

  • Potholing (where permitted) must be carried out prior to excavation to validate the position of existing services.
  • For design projects it is recommended to carry out potholing early to verify the position of services and to avoid potential conflicts and delays at construction stage.
  • Follow any DBYD Asset Owner Member’s specific requirements in regard to working or potholing on or around their assets.
  • Using 123 Locate It, a DBYD Certified underground service locator when potholing will:
    –  Minimise the amount of exploratory potholing and save costs
    –  Assist in validating the correct asset when exposed
  • When potholing only utilise non-destructive methods. Methods can include careful hand digging and hydro excavation.
  • On completion of potholing the reinstatement and restoration must meet the requirements of the DBYD Asset Owner Member and/or local authority. The site must be left in a condition such that no safety hazards associated with the locating work activities remain.

4.   Protect

Once 123 Locate It has located and marked the services, it is your responsibility to protect:

  • Located asset information should be communicated to all on site, the assets be clearly marked or flagged and, if necessary, have protective barriers, supports erected or other methods in accordance with the Asset Owner’s requirements.
  • Any DBYD Asset Owner Member or industry regulated No Go Zones or Exclusion Zones must be adhered to and enforced on site.
  • Utilise SWMS (Safe Work Method Statements) and/or JSA (Job Safety Analysis).
  • All recorded information/measurements of any subsurface utilities (from locating, etc) should be recorded in accordance with AS5488 – 2013 and have the correct Quality Levels specified i.e. A, B, C or D (page 12) to prevent future damage.
  • Isolate the work near underground assets from the public at all times.

5.   Proceed

You should only procced with your excavation work after:

  • The first four steps have been completed;
  • You have verified that all the information in the preceding steps is still current. If the use by date of DBYD plans has expired, you will need to obtain current plans and if necessary, re-validate any changes that may have occurred;
  •  If requested by the Asset Owner Member advise them when works are to be undertaken near their asset or area of interest; and
  • You have met all the requirements of Safe Work Australia Code of practice and any state WHS or OHS Acts and Regulations.

For the complete details of the Dial Before You Dig Best Practice guide please proceed to the Dial Before you Dig Website.