Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. What is the Dial Before You Dig service? Open or Close

    Dial Before You Dig is the national referral service for information on underground infrastructure. It puts those who intend to excavate in touch with underground asset owners who are Members of the Dial Before You Dig service. The asset owners respond by providing information (generally plans) on the location of any underground pipes & cables, along with information on how to work safely and carefully whilst excavating in the vicinity of underground plant.

  • 2. How does the service work? Open or Close

    Free Dial Before You Dig enquiries can be lodged in one of three ways –lodging online at, by using our iPhone app or by ringing our national call centre on 1100 during business hours.

    You will initially receive a Confirmation Sheet from Dial Before You Dig which provides details of the asset owners affected and enables you to ensure the recorded dig site is correct. The asset owners will then send you plans detailing the location of their underground infrastructure generally within two business days.

  • 3. Why should I use the service before I begin excavation? Open or Close

    Underground pipes and cables carry vital services such as water, electricity, communications and gas - damaging them can cause widespread disruption and in some cases isolate entire communities from these essential basic services. Of course there is also the risk of personal injury and incurring significant financial penalties if you damage underground infrastructure. Dial Before You Dig is therefore the essential first step of safe excavation. It is a quick and free service so it makes sense to use Dial Before You Dig every time.

  • 4. Who should use the Dial Before You Dig service? Open or Close

    Builders, contractors, farmers, excavation companies, councils, landscapers, underground network maintenance workers, plumbers, home owners, cable and pipe location companies - in fact anyone who is intending to begin digging work should lodge an enquiry before commencing. Even if you are planning any kind of excavation in your own backyard, you should contact Dial Before You Dig.

  • 5. How much does it cost to obtain a location plan? Open or Close

    Lodging a Dial Before You Dig enquiry is free. In some instances underground asset owners may charge for the supply of infrastructure information – although this is normally only for large development related enquiries or planning/design enquiries where no excavation is taking place.

  • 6. What type of information is provided? Open or Close

    Underground location plans provide information about plant presence only - they do not pinpoint the exact location of the cables and pipes. It is the excavator’s responsibility to visually expose the cable or pipe manually by using hand tools before any construction begins. This is usually completed using the potholing technique and by following the relevant utilities’ instructions. Utilities will provide contact details for further assistance.

  • 7. Are cable and pipe networks installed in a straight line? Open or Close

    Networks may not be installed in a straight line. This is mainly due to obstacles that may have been in the vicinity when the cables and pipes were installed. Due to the deviation in alignment, several potholes may need to be dug manually to determine the exact locations of cables or pipes to avoid any mishaps. Never assume the depth or alignment of pipes and cables.

  • 8. Do utilities charge for on-site engineering assistance? Open or Close

    In some cases they may. Utilities may provide free on-site or over the phone engineering advice when necessary. However a fee may be charged when the relevant utility is requested to find specific locations of underground networks or provide advice on-site. Clarification of fees can be obtained by contacting the relevant utility direct.

  • 9. Do the utilities need help in maintaining their networks? Open or Close

    The underground networks are the means of providing essential services to all Australians. Australians should be proud of their valuable underground assets and take care to protect them from unnecessary damage.

    The formation of the national Dial Before You Dig service, backed by high-profile advertising and public relations campaigns, is just one of the many initiatives of organisations with underground networks to help protect buried assets.

    Despite this, we still need your help. Millions of kilometres of pipes and cables are buried throughout Australia and all Australians need to be aware of the underground networks and help protect them from damage.

  • 10. Why are individuals being held financially liable for damage to the networks? Open or Close

    There are many incidents of damage to underground networks throughout Australia each year, costing millions of dollars. Most of this damage occurs as a result of ignorance, carelessness or even blatant disregard for the networks. These networks are vital to Australia. Individual and company liability for cable and pipe damage has been introduced by many utilities to make individuals take responsibility for avoiding such damage. Litigation activity may be commenced against individuals or companies where negligence can be proved.

  • 11. If I use the service and advise of my plans to excavate, am I still responsible for any damage that I may cause? Open or Close

    All individuals have a duty of care they must observe when working in the vicinity of underground plant. A vital component of that duty of care is to use the Dial Before You Dig service before any digging or excavation commences. When observing this duty of care the following must also be considered:

    • it is the excavator's responsibility to visually expose the underground pipes and cables manually ie. using potholing techniques 
    • location plans provide an indication of the presence of underground plant only, they do not pinpoint the exact location, this is why manual exposure is required 
    • protect the infrastructure when working around it
    • utilities may hold individuals and companies liable for all damage caused to their network if it can be shown that negligent or careless behaviour caused the damage
  • 12. Why should individuals or companies wishing to excavate have to spend time and effort in locating underground pipes and cables? Open or Close

    Australians need to take responsibility for their valuable underground network. The time and effort spent avoiding just one instance of damage could save thousands of dollars and avoid isolating thousands of people from vital services. Cable and pipe damage is unnecessary and should be avoided.

    The location of underground plant on any site needs to be considered during the planning stages of every project. With thorough organisation, the time required to determine the location of the network can be minimised. Plans outlining plant presence can be obtained long before on-site work commences. The time required for locating underground plant should be considered when scheduling heavy machinery for excavation work.

  • 13. Are all organisations with underground networks covered by the Dial Before You Dig service? Open or Close

    Not yet. Presently, most companies with underground pipes and cables in Australia are part of the Dial Before You Dig service, but not all. However, the service is actively recruiting new members all the time and the aim is to have all companies with underground networks on board in the near future.

  • 14. If I have underground assets how can I become a member of the Dial Before You Dig service? Open or Close

    We are always on the lookout for new members. If your company is looking to join the service, please contact your local State Manager.