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How Do I Check Services Before Digging?

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Every work concerning your establishment should be planned carefully. If you need to construct a new building in a different location, there are some factors to keep in mind.

Before you start breaking the ground, you must ensure to check services that could be buried underneath.

In line with that, you may probably be asking yourself, “How do I check services before digging?” Worry no more because we are here to help you. In this post, you will learn the different ways to assess the services underground before you start digging.

One common mistake of many company owners who are planning to construct a new building is assuming that the underground is free from major utilities such as pipes. This often results in serious damages to the property and the workers.

To prevent this from happening, always think that your construction site has pressurized gas pipes and live electricity cables underneath. Simple damage to one of these underground utilities can cause fatality.

What You Should Do?

If one of your construction projects requires ground excavation, the first thing you should do is to check the underground services. Doing so will help you to avoid damaging these utilities and minimize additional project costs.

Take note that damaged electrical cables could be deadly to your workers. Aside from that, considering that electrical cables look like pipes, you may have a hard time assessing if they are a type of live wires.

Once damaged, underground electrical cables could injure or even take the life of your workers. To prevent any fatal damages from happening, it is important to know what you should do to check services before digging.

The following are some of the steps you need to follow to minimize the risks associated with excavation jobs:

Planning the Work

Planning is the first stage in performing excavation works. It is important to create an efficient excavation plan. Planning includes identifying underground utility services’ locations. Beyond that, you should also create plans regarding how to avoid or minimize the hazards associated with your project.

Before you start the project, it is also vital to assess and weigh the possible risks. Determine the number and extent of hazards and dangers that could possibly happen when the excavation works start.

You can also ask for help from utility companies in locating the underground services. They can provide you with reports regarding the location information. Take note that these reports serve as your guide. This means that you are still responsible for checking the exact position of these utilities. You can also ask your local electricity network operator for additional utility plans available.


After compiling all the utility plans documents, the next thing you should do is to wander around your property and estimate the possible location of these utilities. Scanning will help you to be more familiar with the location before you start the excavation work.

It is also ideal to use CAT or Cable Avoidance Tools and Genny. These two tools will help you to locate the position of the cables buried underground. Do this before you start digging. After that, professionals recommend rescanning the location as you do your work.

Checking the whole job site is recommended to determine warning signs regarding different utilities, such as electrical wires. As you check your property, make sure to scan nearby areas for possible manhole covers, utility indicator markers, consumer units, electricity pillar boxes, and fuse or meter boxes.

Before you use special mechanical or electric excavation tools, it is ideal to use your hands for digging trial holes until some parts of the services are exposed. Always follow proper digging methods to establish the underground utility equipment’s depth and line.

Do not forget to remind your contractors to ensure their safety as they dig into the deeper levels of the ground. This is because they may encounter or damage underground services. In case that some of your workers accidentally damage the underground cables, make sure to stop the excavation area and leave the site immediately. It would be best to call your local electricity network operator for immediate action.

Think Before You Dig

Before you start the excavation process, make sure that your workers are familiar with the best excavation techniques set by the Health and Safety Executive Guidance HSG47. Doing so will minimize the risks of electric shocks or other hazards that may be caused by damaged underground service.

Aside from that, always consider underground services as live cables. If you think that underground cables are damaged, do not attempt to come closer to them. Instead, call your electricity network operator and let them fix the problem.

Use Cable Locating Devices

As we mentioned earlier, you identify and familiarize yourself with the location of underground cables. It is important to mark the exact position of the cable. In that case, using a reliable cable locating device would be handy.

Using cable locating devices will help you to know which part of the construction site contains the major underground services. Keep in mind to use cable locators throughout the entire excavation process.

When using a cable locator, make sure that you know how it works and the proper way to use it. Ensure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using any type of cable locating device. Aside from that, it should be maintained and checked regularly to ensure that it is in good condition and can provide you with accurate results.


Most large establishments usually do frequent excavation works. Unfortunately, only a few company owners know the prerequisites required to be performed before digging.

We hope that this article helped you know how to check underground services before performing any activities that involve digging and breaking grounds. Using utility mapping tools is a great way to detect and determine the location of any type of service buried underground. Doing so will help you create an efficient excavation plan without compromising the worker’s safety.

If you need to do excavation works in the future, make sure to check any underground services prior to the actual digging procedure.



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