Underground & overhead services

Construction activities performed below ground level or in areas where overhead electricity and communication services are delivered are heavily regulated.

Avoid contact with service lines because accidental contact with overhead power or breaking through underground gas, sewer or telecommunication lines can result in fatalities, significant fines and costly outlays to restore interrupted services.

The four main types of services are:

  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Telecommunications
  • Sewerage and stormwater.

Planning and risk assessment

It's important to identify where service lines are located right from the planning and design stage of your project, instead of when you begin working on-site. This includes making a 'Dial Before You Dig' enquiry at least two days before any excavation work to find out  relevant information about any underground services located in the excavation area.

When working with overhead services, it’s mandatory to contact the network owner for safety advice if works will encroach on the exclusion zone. The network owner should advise you of the line type, voltage and potential actions to take to manage the risk of electrocution.

If you’re a principal contractor, you're responsible for relaying the information to any subcontractors that may come into contact with the services.

During the project, follow safe work practices and communicate them to your workers to ensure lines aren’t cut and exclusion zones aren’t breached.

Control measures

Control measures for preventing contact with service lines will vary depending on the type of service, its location, the works to be undertaken and the proximity of the works to the service.

After consulting with ‘Dial b4 you dig’ or the network owner, you may be required to use one or more of the following controls to prevent injury or equipment damage:

  • Relocation of the service by the line owner
  • Temporary de-energising of the service
  • Setting exclusion zones and using trained spotters
  • Lock-outs on plant booms and telescopic arms to prevent movement into exclusion zones
  • Pot-holing with hand tools.

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