The penetration of the ground by any means has a potential to impact underground services, regardless of type or depth of activity. A common seemingly low risk activity is the installation of star pickets into the ground. Star pickets are used for many different purposes, from surveying, securing garden structures and trees, marking of potential excavation or landscaping works. Regardless of the perception of the installation of a star picket into the ground as being low risk due to likely shallow depth of installation, this activity has the positional to damage underground services and therefore potentially result in injuries to people.
The Dial Before You Dig service is a free service to use and therefore obtain information about the indicative location of assets (above and below ground) in and around your work area. With the information sent to the User from the Dial Before You Dig Members, this contains recommendations about how to work safely in and around their assets. It should also be noted that alignment and depth provided on Member plans is indicative and therefore the application of the 5Ps of safe work is an important step to minimising the potential for asset damage.
In particular, over time, ground contours change and therefore the depth of cover to an underground asset at the time of installation may differ to the actual depth at the time of your activity. Applying the 5Ps of Safe Work will assist in preventing damages:
- Plan ahead 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.
Using Dial Before You Dig and applying the 5Ps can aid in the prevention of incidents like the images below (thanks to ATCO Australia), which is a photograph of the damage to a gas pipeline from a star picket:
Dial Before You Dig is committed to ensuring that those who work around infrastructure assets are protected and well informed. There are also 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.
Dial Before You Dig, The Essential First Step.
This article was published in Fencit June 2019 – Use of Star Pickets for Fencing.