It is essential that you know the pipe layout underneath your home before commencing any digging projects.
This is especially important if you are looking to use a mechanical excavator.
According to the HSA Code of Practice, mechanical excavators have the highest risk and “should not be used within 500mm of a gas distribution pipe.”
Hitting a Gas Pipe can be Costly and Dangerous
Because pure natural gas is odourless and colourless (when composed mostly of methane), unpleasant ‘mercaptans’ are typically added. The unpleasant odour additive is crucial for assisting in the identification of gas leaks.
The smell is most often described as rotting eggs, or, sometimes, it is perceived to have a smell that is reminiscent of a skunk’s odour. Although the best way of avoiding catastrophe is not to cause a leak in the first place, accidents can and do happen.
Anyone who detects one of the aforementioned odours, especially during digging, must evacuate the vicinity immediately and ensure that no open flames are exposed. Additionally, all electrical and mechanical equipment should be immediately shut down to mitigate the risk of fire and/or explosion.
Before you Begin any Digging Project, Be sure you Tick all the Boxes
If you don’t know the layout of your pipes, do not dig; instead, the Australian Pipelines & Gas Association can help provide you with the contact information you need. The Pipelines of Australia map, which can be found on the www.apga.org.au website, includes the most recent pipeline proposals and layouts.
The map can also give you an excellent idea and overview of the existing transmission pipeline system, as well as any newly proposed pipelines. Whether you’re in the industry or just want to dig safely, the map can provide you with crucial information that can keep you and your family safe and informed.
Fix the Leaks
Even if the leak is insufficient to pose a serious risk of fire explosion, there are other potential problems – even with leaks that are very minor.
Minor gas leaks can still affect vegetation, which can often lead to the decline and death of grass or trees. Additionally, small animals and birds are especially sensitive to the toxic gases that are emitted from gas leaks, including methane and carbon monoxide, which is present in most forms of natural gas.
If, for some reason, you must dig where you suspect a gas pipe might be (or you have no idea), it is advisable to use tools such as shovels and spades, as these pose the lowest risk of striking and damaging a gas pipe.
Once again, it cannot be overstated how important it is to not use a mechanical excavator in areas where gas pipes are suspected to be. Failure to heed this advice can cause a complete catastrophe, including serious injury or loss of life.
If you are still not sure if it is safe to dig in a certain area of your property (or how far you are permitted to dig), you can contact us as we are more than willing to lend a hand.