Before you dig

Whenever you start digging, there’s a risk you’ll come across underground electricity lines.

Accidental contact with energised cables can put you and your teammates at risk of electric shock. To stay safe, locate underground powerlines before you break ground, and hire qualified people to handle high risk electrical work.

Before work commences

Before you dig, you should check the site for underground powerlines with a voltage of 33kV or higher. To do this, take the following steps:

Step 1 - Request underground site plans

Request underground plans of your site using the free Before You Dig Australia service.

If powerlines 33kV or higher are present, go on to Step 2.

If powerlines less than 33kV are present, you can:

Step 2 - Request detailed powerline plans

Submit a Request for detailed plans of the underground powerlines from us.

Step 3 -  Submit your preliminary works plans

Submit a Preliminary works plans review request to us for our consideration.

Your proposal will need to comply with the guidelines for working safely near underground electric lines (PDF 1010.5 kb).

If we accept your preliminary plans, you can begin work.

If we decide the plans need further work, go to Step 4.

Step 4 -  Submit your detailed works plans

Submit a Detailed works plans assessment request for our consideration.

IMPORTANT: You can find detailed information about each of these steps and your safety responsibilities around underground powerlines in Working near Overhead and Underground Electric Lines (WP1323) (PDF 1010.5 kb).

Hiring contractors to work near underground powerlines

Any work around live underground powerlines is classed as high risk.

If you’re the person in charge of a work site, it’s your responsibility to control this risk. You’ll need to take steps to make sure no person, object or plant comes in contact with the underground powerlines. This includes only hiring contractors with the right training and experience.

There are some activities that increase risk even further, including:

  • Entry into the powerline backfill below the protective cover strips, bricks or equivalent (typically installed approximately 100mm above cables)
  • Removal of flowable fill backfill
  • Excavation beneath the underground powerline.

If you’re doing any of these activities, we recommend you engage an Energex rated Civil Contractor (PDF) to carry out work and/or help to assess risks and develop safe work methods.

You can also find an approved contractor by contacting:

IMPORTANT: All works need to consider the Electrical Safety Code of Practice 2020 for Working Near Overhead and Underground Electric Lines.

Need more information?

Safety fact sheets

Find industry-specific information about working safely near underground powerlines.

To order factsheets in industry packs, use our brochure & sticker order form.

Other information

Links to other good sources of information.