OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
Bookmark this page

Part 32 Excavating and Tunnelling

Section 441 Disturbing the ground

Before excavating activities actually begin, the location of buried facilities that may be encountered during digging must first be located. Buried or underground facilities include anything below the ground that transports or stores products and services such as:

  • water
  • sewage
  • oil
  • natural gas
  • chemicals
  • cablevision services
  • electric energy
  • electric, telephonic and telegraphic communications.

These facilities may be contained in pipes, conduits, ducts, cables, wires, valves, manholes, catch basins, storage tanks and attachments associated with these items. Striking any of these facilities could result in personal injury and injury to other workers, electrocution, explosion or the release of a harmful substance(s). In addition to these health and safety consequences, vital services may be disrupted and repair costs may be incurred.

Disturbing the ground does not include
(a) routine, minor road maintenance, such as patching, street sweeping and the grading of gravel roads,
(b) agricultural cultivation to a depth of less than 450 millimetres (18 inches) below the ground surface over a pipeline, or
(c) hand-digging to a depth of no more than 300 millimetres (12 inches) below the ground surface, so long as it does not permanently remove cover over a buried facility. Buried facilities tend to be more than 300 millimetres below the surface.

However, there are many activities that disturb the ground and have the potential to contact a buried facility. These include:
(a) excavating, digging and trenching;
(b) plowing, drilling, tunnelling, auguring and backfilling;
(c) driving posts, bars, pins, etc., topsoil stripping, land leveling and quarrying; and
(d) tree planting, rock picking, grading, blasting and clearing.