safety helmets

Construction Sites; Why Safety Is Pivotal

Why Safety Must Always Be Considered At Construction Sites

According to the most recent OSHA statistics, workplace injuries cost the Australian economy over $61 billion annually. This is their direct impact and does not take into account the ancillary effect that they have on people, companies and communities. Workplace injuries and diseases have a trickle-down effect that not only changes the lives of the workers involved but can lead to company closures and loss of jobs in their area of operations. At a minimum, they cause an increase in expenses such as workers compensation insurance and a decrease in worker productivity.

Sadly, the lions share of these incidents happen within the construction industry with 63,230 worker injuries and 899 deaths being reported in 2018. That is almost 20 percent of all reported worker fatalities in the country and a similar percentage of accidents.

While some might see these numbers as an indictment of construction companies and building practices, in general, the honest truth is that construction work is inherently dangerous. On any given site every type of possible hazard might be present at some time and most such as slip and fall hazards, large equipment in motion and airborne particulate hazards are a constant companion. Add to this the fact a construction site is a highly animated environment where things are constantly changing and in motion and it is easy to understand how accidents do frequently occur despite everyone’s best intentions.

This doesn’t mean that is not room for improvements and a Zero Harm working environment should always be the goal of every contracting company. Not just for the benefit of their employees but for the economic advantages that it brings as well.
The elimination of workplace injuries increases the productivity of workers, prevents client annoying scheduling delays, and in extreme cases greatly lessens the chances of a company killing lawsuits or OSHA actions.

To help aid in the quest for zero lost time accidents new technologies are being developed every day and new uses are being found for tools that have been with us for years. A case in point is the recent developments in vacuum excavation.

Origins of vacuum excavation

Most people associate the basic principles behind vacuum excavation with the placer mining techniques used in the 1800s but it was actually the Romans who first used water under pressure to move earth. The mining industry rediscovered the power of this method during the California gold rush in the United States.

In the late 1970 trucks were developed to use suction to remove septage from tanks and to empty slurry from industrial waste pits. By the 80s jet, trucks had been developed to clear blockages from underground pipes. Then in 1993, the idea of using water pressure as a digging tool was paired with the idea of using suction to remove the debris and vacuum excavation was born.

How can vacuum excavation improve safety?

17 percent of all workplace injuries in the construction industry are the result of people being hit by moving equipment like excavators and loaders. When vacuum excavation methods are used the equipment is only in motion when being set up or leaving the worksite. Other than that, only hoses and personnel are in motion. No moving equipment precludes someone being struck.

Over one-third of all construction injuries involve muscle strain or some other type of body stress. Suction excavation doesn’t require any shovel work to be done by hand greatly reducing the chances of a labourer developing strains and sprains.
Both of the injury types just mentioned become more likely when work must be performed in a confined area where there is very little margin for error. Tight spaces are an issue that hydro excavation excels at. The trucks can be parked in an open area and hoses run to the actual dig site.

Inside an excavation site is one of the most dangerous places a construction worker can be required to work. Even with modern shoring methods many accidents minor and major still occur each year. Vacuum excavator operators are not normally required to enter a dig site. They work remotely from the surface. This eliminates the chances of them becoming the victim of a cave-in.

Vacuum digging removes the excavated material from the worksite helping to eliminate clutter, improve visibility and improving the overall safety of the project site.

There is no such thing as a minor injury on a construction site. All reportable incidents impact worker morale and a company’s safety record. At a minimum, a company should have a documented comprehensive safety plan to protect themselves from regulatory issues. The wise contractor makes use of all possible tools made available to them to protect themselves and their people.

From the simple things like toolbox meetings as each shift comes into making use of the latest and safest technology available to accomplish each task at hand there are no small steps that can be overlooked. One misstep is all it can take to change a company’s fortunes forever.

vacuum truck

Why Is Vacuum Excavation the Preferred Method of Excavation in Australia?

Excavation work has always been problematic. Whether it is something as simple as planting a tree in your yard or as complicated as a remediation project anytime you start to break soul with traditional methods there are risks and safety issues that must always be taken into account. The pick and shovel method often expose people to dangerous working conditions and is a labour-intensive method to move soil. It has often been employed as a method of last resort though when working space is limited.

Heavy equipment like track hoes, backhoes and excavators cannot avoid contributing to noise pollution, air pollution and environmental damage to some extent. Added to these risks is the ever-present danger of damaging utility pipes and cabling or causing irreparable harm to heritage flora. In the proper environment, they are capable of moving a large amount of earth quickly but generate a lot of airborne particulate matter and require space to operate and an area to deposit the material they move causing further unsightly damage to their surroundings. Of course, this was all before the development of vacuum excavation methods and the specialized equipment it employees.

As with any earth moving procedure, vacuum excavation is not necessarily the best option under all circumstances but when properly employed, in the correct manner, by trained professionals it can bring distinct advantages to some portion of virtually any excavation site.

What is vacuum excavation

Vacuum Excavation is also known as hydro excavation or non-destructive digging and is a very simple process to understand. Most people, at some point in their lives, have seen the same principle displayed from a common garden hose. You spray it on the ground and you end up with a muddy hole. Non-destructive digging applies this same principle on a much larger scale.

Unlike more traditional methods of digging, it doesn’t rely on the impact power or the cutting force that can be generated by hydraulic or pneumatic machinery but it does have the ability to move massive amounts of earth quickly. Nor does it require the muscle power of hand digging yet it can provide even better precision and safety around obstructions.

Vacuum excavation uses precision jets of high-pressure water to loosen and move clay, sand, rock and soil. Almost all underground utilities are impervious to water so there is no need to worry about damaging any piping or cables that may be buried in the area. Because hydro excavation uses dirt’s natural tendency to absorb moister and then flow rather than a cutting process there is also no need to worry about damaging the root systems of trees or even most larger shrubbery.

As the water jet breaks up and combines with the soil contents it flows and is then vacuumed out of the excavation and into a holding truck. This eliminates the need for there to be unsightly dirt piles that cause further environmental damage.

Advantages of hydro excavation

Vacuum excavation offers many advantages over traditional digging methods beyond those listed above. Here is a partial list to give you a few ideas.

  • It allows underground assets to be uncovered with minimal disturbance of the surrounding area and next to no chance of causing damage to the works being uncovered. This makes it an ideal process for utility work, especially in congested urban areas.
  • Because the pressure head and vacuum hoses can be operated remotely from the dig site there is no need to clear an area or perform demolition work in order to make room for heavy equipment. Making it ideal for locations with minimum available space or where the surrounding property or road face needs to be protected.
  • Because it is a wet procedure hydro excavation doesn’t generate the dust and other particulate air pollution that more traditional digging methods cause. For areas where people may allergy or other respiratory concerns this could be a big plus.
  • In all but the most extreme excavations, there is no need for personnel to actually enter the dig. This greatly reduces the chances of injuries, lowers liability concerns and increases worker safety.
  • Vacuum excavation is up to ten times faster than the traditional hand digging required in areas where underground utility works or root systems that need to be preserved are located. This added efficiency reduces the time to complete a project and will in most cases equate to a cost savings to the end customer.

Why Is Vacuum Excavation Now the Preferred Method of Excavation in Australia? The simple answer is because it is a gentler, more cost-effective, less invasive and safer way of excavating a site. It reduces pollution, minimizes site impact and helps preserve the surrounding environment. In short, it is superior to traditional digging methods in almost any way.

If you need any type of excavation work performed in the Brisbane, Gladstone or Mackay areas contact SafeDig Services for a consultation.

safedig vacuum truck fleet

Safe Dig Featured in Trenchless Australasia



With offices in Brisbane, Gladstone and Mackay, Safe Dig Services serves its clients – including the mining and rail sectors – throughout Brisbane, Gold Coast, Whitsundays, regional Queensland and New South Wales. The company has recently acquired new vacuum trucks, bringing the total in its fleet to 15, in addition to other construction and excavation machinery.

Safe Dig Services provides the Australian construction industry with end-to-end capabilities, including project management on a variety of developments. Safe Dig Services specialises in vacuum excavation and pipe management services, with specific experience in the rail infrastructure industry. Safe Dig Services also offers service location as one of Queensland’s only Telstra-accredited location providers, pipe jetting, culvert cleaning and other civil services. Safe Dig Services is proud of its ability to not only service some of Australia’s largest companies, including Aurizon, CPB, Lendlease and Downer, but also provide friendly, personalised service for private landowners and residents.

Safe Dig Services was founded in 1994 by Managing Director Michael Vidler. The acquisition of the company’s first truck coincided with Safe Dig Services participating in cable laying and trenching works for the telecommunications industry. Since 1994, Safe Dig Services has emphasised the need for customer service, guided by leadership and training from the company’s Directors. This has enabled a progression of steady growth, leading to Safe Dig Services attracting customers and solidifying the solid foundations of the company. After years of experience in th telecommunications industry, Safe Dig Services recognised a niche in the general vacuum excavation industry and began to target the wider area, providing vacuum excavation to the construction, rail transport, plumbing and local government industries.




How to fix blocked drains or blocked pipes

People often ask us the best way to clear a blocked drain or pipe. They’ve tried everything – Draino, spiral tools, drain snakes and every technique in the book. Sometimes they’re sick of the smell, ready to give up and dig the entire pipe out for replacement.

But there’s an easier, safer and cheaper option than digging up trenches and making all that mess! Safe Dig’s high-pressure jetting units clear blocked drains with ease, with an output pressure of over 2500PSI. Better yet, we’ve got a unit to suit every application – small trucks, large trucks and jetting trailers, even a water tanker and jetter combo for long-lasting jetting power.

So what is jetting?

Jetting is basically a high-pressure water blast, designed to vaporise any debris or clogging material from a pipe. Clean up is easy too! Using our powerful vacuum excavation trucks, we’re able to find the next access point in the pipe and remove excess liquid/silt/blockage if necessary. This makes it particularly useful for unblocking of stormwater drains, cleaning grease traps or flushing out pits.

pipe jetting

Safe Dig also have multiple jetting nozzles, tips which attach to our jetting rods. These jetters are specifically designed for different tasks, including cutting tips for tree-roots, spiralling tips for further-reach and multi-directional nozzles which actively push the jetting nozzle further into the pipe to clear blockages. Our capabilities extend beyond pipe and pit, and we even have nozzles for high-pressure cleaning of graffiti, bin cleaning, pit cleans, pit flushes and sewerage pump outs.
Our jetting work is also exceptionally helpful in recent work with city councils cleaning gross pollutant traps and grease traps, removing waste and debris from your local stormwater system and keeping pollution out of our waterways.

pipe jetting in action

Safe Dig specialise in jetting services and have been servicing everyone from major city councils and large international corporations, down to small plumbing businesses and residential landowners. Our offices in Brisbane, Gladstone and Mackay enable us to be highly versatile and service all of Queensland. Our qualified and trustworthy staff are accredited in many aspects of the business and, coupled with our fleet of over 30 vacuum trucks and civil equipment machinery, we are highly capable of completing any task you require. Our fleet includes a variety of equipment including vacuum trucks excavators, combination units, recycling units, remote control diggers and more.

Give us a ring today on (07) 3376 0856 to book in your next jetting job – let us help solve your pipe problems.

underground service Loçocate

Underground Utility Location Services

Whether you’re a home builder, architect, surveyor, electrician, fence builder, landscaper or Tier 1 construction company building a new road, identifying and marking out underground utilities on your project site is essential to avoid damage and costly delays with public and private services.


What is a Vacuum Excavation Truck?

Maybe you have seen our Vacuum Excavation Truck throughout Brisbane, Gladstone, Rockhampton, or Mackay and wondered what exactly is this impressive piece of machinery.

Looking like some kind of hybrid fire truck, it is common that our vacuum excavation trucks raise an eyebrow or two while on the road or on-site performing a vacuum excavation.

Just like a fire truck, our Vacuum excavation trucks can pump water; in fact Safe Dig vacuum excavation trucks carry 2000 L of fresh water with a fire fighter pump installed for blasting. Where our vacuum excavation trucks differ however is that they also have installed a high pressure vacuum which we use to clean out everything from trenches to conduits and pipes.

Ground Penetrating Radar

Benefits of using Ground Penetrating Radar

When it comes to surveying and mapping your project site, fully understanding it’s underground utilities, either indoors with a concrete slab or outdoors before commencing work is a must. Using the latest Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) technology, Safe Dig’s GPR is the only non- intrusive method that can determine non-metallic or non-conductive underground services such as plastic water and gas lines, concrete, terracotta, asphalt, composite pipes and even direct-buried fibre optics.
GPR is in principle similar to sonar devices used on boats; the receiver detects the “back- scattered” signal, records it and displays a live image on a screen indicating the depth and position of the object or pipe. Coupled with vacuum excavation, GPR is remarkable technology for construction sites.

Non Destructive digging

Why use vacuum excavation?

Vacuum excavation is a non-destructive digging technology that improves the safety of workers on site, is more cost effective and importantly, vacuum excavation is significantly more environmentally friendly than conventional digging machinery.

Looking at the equipment we’ve been using here at Safe Dig Brisbane since 1994; vacuum digging requires a specially equipped vacuum excavation truck with a water tank and a debris tank that allows us to penetrate and vacuum up the earth, clay, stone, gravel and rock out of the ground. The main reasons for vacuum digging are to create a hole, trench or reveal the picture below with non-destructive, low evasive digging technology that is extremely safe.


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