It’s now officially Safe Digging Month, and with extreme weather this year literally shifting the ground around us, it’s more important than ever to check where underground utilities are before digging.

Our education and safety campaign are timed to coincide with the warmer weather and the likelihood that more of you will be heading outdoors to do work that has been waiting for some sunnier weather. So, if that applies to you, there’s a simple 5-step process to follow.

Prevention is much safer, quicker, and cheaper than missing a step and having a mishap, which could cause injury to workers, or major service disruptions due to cable or pipe damage.

The first step is lodging a free beforeUdig enquiry at least two full business days before starting work, then review plans and follow any special instructions provided by the asset owner. Do an onsite visual check and engage a qualified utility locator who will use electronic equipment to scan the area and mark out on the ground the position of underground cables and pipes in or near your worksite. You then need to hand dig test holes referred to in the industry as ‘potholes’ to eyeball and confirm the exact location of utilities. For any cables or pipes that are present you need to ensure protection measures are in place to prevent any damage to infrastructure. You may then proceed with careful digging only if you’ve done all of the above.

Doing things properly - and not relying on plans alone, or what you think you know about a site - is especially important in a year where New Zealand has experienced cyclones and floods that have brought down houses and closed major highways, causing ground, and potentially pipes and cables, to move.

Find out all you need to know with our Safe Digging Guide: