Frequently Asked Questions

We answer some of your frequently asked questions below. For more detailed information or an answer to any question not covered here, please contact us – we’re always happy to chat!

Why is it important to Dial Before You Dig?

Any excavation work, whether small or large, residential or commercial, has the potential to damage assets located around the work site. Underground cables, pipes and other utilities are at risk or being damaged inadvertently, leading to service interruptions, project delays, costly repairs and possibly even loss of life.

You can significantly minimise these risks by obtaining up-to-date information about the proposed work site. Safety is a fundamental aspect of any excavation project and so getting in touch with a Licensed and Certified Locator should always be the first step of any project.

Why is it important to use a Certified Locator?

The National Utility Locating Contractors Association (NULCA) is committed to improving locating standards across Australia. NULCA has worked closely with Dial Before You Dig (DBYD) and asset owner members in developing the DBYD Certification to meet industry requirements.

Locators with DBYD Locator Certification have a nationally recognised industry qualification that distinguishes them from ‘DIY’ or self-authorised locators. With DBYD Certification there is no need to guess whether the locator you are hiring is competent, insured or even authorised to access network. Hiring locators that are not DBYD certified may be putting your business and the community at risk.

To gain certification, locators must pass a comprehensive theory exam and practical field test conducted by an industry assessor. The assessment includes auditing equipment for compliance and the ability of the user to competently use it, workplace safety knowledge and compliance with safe OHS practices. The assessment also includes knowledge and understanding of AS 5488 (classification of subsurface utility information).

This nationally recognised industry qualification, based on a rigorous assessment that contains both the theory and practical elements of professional locating, ensures that you have complete peace of mind when choosing to use a Certified Locator.

How accurate is an Electronic Locator?

EM Detection is used to locate underground services. However, EM Detection has limitations and is not able to detect services that are broken, made of plastic or have a broken tracer wire or in heavily congested areas.

EM Detection works by attaching a transmitter to the above ground portion of a service and then using a portable receiver to locate the underground cable of the associated service. Generally, this method gives a fairly accurate alignment of the cables or pipes; a depth is also indicated but is only given as an approximate. If exact depth and alignment are needed, then potholing will be required to verify the asset.

What is Ground Penetrating Radar?

Ground Penetrating Radar (commonly called GPR) is the general term applied to techniques which employ electromagnetic waves to map structures, pipes and cables and other features buried in soil, concrete, road paving etc.

It is a non-invasive imaging technique that was developed in the 1970s for shallow, high-resolution, subsurface investigations of the ground. GPR is a method that is commonly used for locating utilities and other shallow investigations such as environmental, engineering, archaeological or forensic. It is quick, easy to use and inexpensive in comparison to other investigation methods.

If the soil is dry and/or sandy, GPR can penetrate to about two metres. Soils with a high dielectric level (water retention) will slow the radar wave and it won’t be able to penetrate as far. Water saturation dramatically raises the dielectric of a material, so a survey area should be carefully inspected for signs of water penetration before beginning any GPR work. Clay soils are often unworkable with radar.