It is important for anyone working in the vicinity of underground networks to know what their obligations are in protecting these services. The following ‘good practice’ guidelines should be complied with when undertaking any form of excavation:

  • When planning Infrastructure Projects all Civil Constructors and Project Managers have a Duty of Care to observe when digging & excavating.
  • Underground network information should be sought from BEFORE YOU DIG. Allow at least two business days prior to starting any excavation or work site project for each enquiry lodged.
  • All plans from registered Members, as noted on the cover sheet, have been received and must be on-site at the project location.
  • Should the scope of works change, or plan validity dates expire, a new BEFORE YOU DIG enquiry must be submitted.
  • Always perform an on-site inspection for the presence of assets. For an on-site location, contact the asset owners directly . i.e. Water or Power provider.
  • Ensure all worker(s) onsite understand the instructions from affected assets before work commences.
  • Once the project is complete, ensure no infrastructure asset(s) have been damaged and any exposed underground asset(s) uncovered by any excavation has been filled back in.
  • If an underground asset is damaged, the asset owner must be advised immediately.

All asset owners provide specifications on safe distances for excavating when in the vicinity of their networks. If further assistance is required, contact the infrastructure asset owners directly using the numbers provided on the plan(s).

There are many examples of damage to underground networks throughout Australia each year, costing millions of dollars. Most of this results from ignorance, carelessness or blatant disregard for the networks. Individual and company liability for cable and pipe damage has been introduced by many utilities to ensure individuals take responsibility to avoid such damage. Litigation may be taken against individuals or companies where negligence can be proved.

All individuals have a duty of care they must observe when working in the vicinity of underground plant. A vital component of that duty of care is to use the BEFORE YOU DIG service before any digging or excavation commences.

When observing this duty of care the following must be considered:

  • It is the responsibility of the Excavator to visually expose the underground assets manually
  • Location plans provide an indication of the presence of underground infrastructure only. They do not pinpoint the exact location. This is why manual exposure is required.
  • Utilities may hold individuals and companies liable for all damage caused to their network if it can be shown that negligent or careless behavior caused the damage.
  • Utilities can provide engineering support and advice where necessary.

Australians need to take responsibility for their valuable underground network. The time and effort spent avoiding just one instance of damage could save thousands of dollars and avoid isolating thousands of people from vital services.

The location of underground infrastructure on any site needs to be considered during the planning stages of every project. With thorough organisation, the time required to determine the location of the network can be minimised. Plans outlining plant presence can be obtained long before on-site work commences. The time required for locating underground plant should be considered when scheduling heavy machinery for excavation work.

For further information please reference the BEFORE YOU DIG website

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