Working to protect Australia’s underground pipelines

This vast network of underground assets carries essential services that are used every day such as gas, electricity, water and telecommunications.

Excavating safely around these assets is vital as any interference or damage to these underground pipes and cables can trigger major setbacks to both businesses and the community.

Of course, coming into contact with gas or electricity infrastructure can potentially be fatal.

To ensure these underground utilities are protected and the practice of safe excavation is maintained, the Dial Before You Dig (DBYD) service should always be an excavator’s first point of call.

As a quick and free service, it makes sense to use DBYD before every excavation job.

DBYD urges pipeline owners, construction contractors and other excavators to lodge a free enquiry at before any digging commences, irrespective of the size of the project.

Simply lodging an enquiry can greatly reduce the risk of infrastructure damage, serious injury and, in the worst case scenario, death.

Once the enquiry is lodged, it is referred to asset owners within the vicinity of the dig site, notifying them of exactly who is excavating around their pipelines, when they plan to commence and precisely what works they intend to carry out.

The asset owners will then respond directly to the excavator with information on the location of underground infrastructure – usually in the form of plans.

Excavators can take these plans onsite to ensure they have the best information available at their fingertips before starting their project.

Safety first

Protecting Australia’s underground pipes and cables is a shared responsibility and therefore, it is important to remember that excavators have a duty of care around underground assets.

In observing that duty of care, the following points are worth noting:

  • Information regarding the location of underground pipes and cables should be requested well in advance of any excavation activities.
  • It is important that all plans are received and understood before any project commences.
  • If the scope of works changes or plan validity dates expire, a new DBYD enquiry should be submitted.
  • Observe the work site closely and look for clues of underground infrastructure such as pits, marker posts, warning signs and meters.
  • Always proceed with caution and carefully excavate by hand when working close to underground networks.
  • Once any underground pipes and cables are found by potholing, protect them before excavation begins.
  • If further assistance is required from an underground asset owner, contact them directly using the number provided on the plans.
  • Ensure all workers onsite communicate about the excavation process.
  • If damage to an underground asset occurs, the asset owner must be advised immediately.

This information may be second nature to many involved in working near or around underground pipelines but it is important to reinforce these key messages to all team members on a regular basis.

It is important to note that as more underground assets are being installed, the risk of an excavation incident escalates.

By simply lodging an enquiry to locate underground assets and doing the right things on site, this risk is considerably reduced.

Easy access

The DBYD service is now mobile, making it easier to lodge an enquiry and more convenient to request plans using your hand held device.

DBYD now has over 600 infrastructure owning Members across Australia and this number continues to rise.

These infrastructure owners are not limited to the main utilities.

Members come from a range of industries such as manufacturing, information technology, irrigation, education and local government – just to name a few.

You never know what may be lying beneath the surface of your worksite.

The message to protect Australia’s infrastructure is becoming widespread, which is great news as this means those operating near underground utilities are now placing a stronger emphasis on safeguarding these essential services.

DBYD is delighted that the message to excavate safely around underground assets is being supported with over 1.1 million enquiries lodged throughout the country last year.

With an ever-improving culture of safe work practices and effective training methods, the service is being used more than ever before.


DBYD also offers a range of educational resources online at, which can assist pipeline owners, technicians, project managers, engineers, and others involved with excavation work around pipelines.

Information such as Safe Excavation pages, Best Practice guides and Safety Regulations for each state can be found online as well as links to other useful resources.

If you would like further details about the Dial Before You Dig service and how it can be of further assistance, please visit for contact details of your local state office.

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