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What is the Australian Safety Practice for Excavation Projects with Utilities Services?


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Dial Before You Dig General Safety Practices.

At Dial Before You Dig, safety of those working around infrastructure assets and the community is of high priority. At every stage of the project, there are measures that can be taken to ensure the safety of those involved in the project and others.

Below is a basic outline of measures to be taken:

Before Starting  

It begins with lodging a FREE Dial Before You Dig enquiry at least one business day prior to starting your exaction or site project. Having the correct information and knowledge will assist greatly in avoiding damages to affected infrastructure assets.

Plans DO NOT come from Dial Before You Dig but are sent directly to the enquirer from the infrastructure asset owner. Once all plans have been received from the affected asset owner as indicated by the cover sheet, study the plans and information thoroughly to ensure there is an understanding of what is required.

Consider hiring a DBYD Certified Locator or one recommended by the asset owner if you believe there are infrastructure assets within the vicinity of your project site but cannot locate them.

Safety plans should be developed for the project site that include procedures employees should follow in the event of an emergency and the location of the nearest hospital, the fire department, police department, and other relevant emergency response organisations

At The Project Site

Use facility records and a visual inspection to gather site information to determine any hazards, soil conditions, trenches, pits, bores, standing water and potentially any dangerous physical obstructions that may impact the safety of employees and the community at the project site and find suitable solutions.

Employees and subcontractors working onsite must be trained and briefed on all safety measures in order to avoid unnecessary risks and place safety as a priority.

If working in any confined space, some asset owners have restrictions on entering confined spaces and have specific health and safety induction and training requirements.  Please refer to the information and plans provided by the asset owner for further clarification.

If the scope of your work changes or the validity date(s) of plan(s) expire, a new Dial Before You Dig enquiry must be submitted.

When Locating Assets

Please note that plans provided by the asset owner only indicate the presence of infrastructure assets within the vicinity of the project site and DO NOT pinpoint the exact location.

Unfortunately, not all of Australia’s infrastructure asset owners are Members of Dial Before You Dig and assumptions SHOULD NOT be made that the plans received represent the only infrastructure assets affected by the project work site.

Following the Five Ps of Safe Excavation guidelines can ensure the right steps are taken.

The Five Ps of Safe Excavation


Source: Mipela

Plan ahead by lodging your Dial Before You Dig enquiry at least one business day before starting any excavation to ensure you have the correct information and safety measures in place.


Source: Suresearch

Prepare by reviewing the utility plans and contacting the utility if you need assistance. Look for onsite asset and infrastructure clues such as pit lids, marker posts and meters. Engage a DBYD Certified Locator which includes undertaking electronic location prior to potholing.  For more details on how to find a DBYD Certified Locator on the website watch the explainer video.


Source: Vac Group

To establish the exact location of all underground infrastructure(s), pothole if permitted using the asset owner’s stated method as specified on the asset owner’s plan and / or information pack.


If potholing has occurred, protect the infrastructure by using various methods; such as communicating to all working on site, erecting barriers and / or marking the location of the exposed infrastructure.

Source: Carsonite


You should only proceed with your excavation work after you have planned, potholed (unless prohibited) and have protective measures in place.

When You Have Finished

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 damage has occurred to any infrastructure asset, notify the affected asset owner immediately by using the contact details on the Dial Before You Dig cover sheet or via the Emergency Contacts. If the situation is life threatening, please contact the Emergency Services on 000.


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