April 17, 2019
The 5Ps of Safe Excavation Practice

Dial Before You Dig

Dial Before You Dig is the free national community service designed to prevent damage and disruption to the vast underground pipe and cable networks around Australia. The service works together with organisations involved in the ownership, maintenance and construction of underground infrastructure and acts as the single point of contact between asset owners and locators. The national enquiry service is for anyone planning to excavate and provides education and awareness programs to protect construction workers, utility assets and the community in every State and Territory.

Asset owners include communications, gas, electricity, water, sewerage and local government as Members of the five-state based Dial Before You Dig entities that form the national organisation. Dial Before You Dig assists in damage prevention to the underground infrastructure covering more than 740,000kms and valued at more than $340 billion.

It is important before undertaking any excavation project whether big or small that the presence of buried assets is located and obtaining information from Dial Before You Dig Members significantly minimises these risks by providing information about the work site. Safety is a fundamental aspect of any excavation project and so lodging an enquiry with the Dial Before You Dig service is the essential first step in this process. The service is free, quick and easy to use so it makes sense to use Dial Before You Dig to pinpoint the presence of underground pipes and cables.

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

The Five Ps of Safe Excavation 


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


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.


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. 


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

There are a number of educational resources available on the Dial Before You Dig website to assist in the protection of Australia’s infrastructure assets, including arranging FREE onsite Awareness Presentations on safe work practices.

Our State offices are committed to ensuring that those who work around infrastructure assets are protected and well informed. To find out more about how Dial Before You Dig services can assist, please contact your local State office.

Dial Before You Dig, The Essential First Step.

This article was published in The Australian Pipeliner April 2019 – The 5Ps of Safe Excavation Practice.