Service Locator Charlie Euston

How did you get into underground service locating?

I’ve always been curious and fascinated by science and engineering, and I also love driving and the outdoors, so when an opportunity came up to join DWB Service Locating I jumped at the opportunity. I threw myself into learning everything I could about underground service locating, and soon found myself down the rabbit hole learning about how various utilities are installed, maintained and run, learning about civil construction, electrical engineering and more.

I found myself a mentor with 20+ years industry experience and I spent huge amount of time doing requests for BYDA plans and then out in the field practicing my locating skills and debriefing with my mentor.

My hard work paid off and I successfully achieved BYDA and Telstra certification.

To have met the stringent standards for BYDA certification was a really proud day for me.

What do you enjoy about it?

I have a very curious mind, and every job is different, with something new to figure out, so underground service locating is perfect career for me. As well as being fascinated by the problem solving, I love the opportunity to spend my days outdoors.

What do you find challenging?

It can be a real challenge to find Telstra pits at times, sometimes the pits are covered by logs in rural areas or people have landscaped over the top of them in residential areas, other times the plans used to identify the pit locations are questionable, at best.

Don’t you get bored doing the same thing every day?

Absolutely not. While the job might look similar every day, there is always something new to figure out, a new project to work on, new people to work with. And I also get to travel all over so I am always in new locations. I love it.

What’s happening within the industry – trends etc?

That’s a big question!

I think BYDA (Before You Dig Australia) is doing an amazing job professionalising the industry and also supporting locators by making a more streamlined process for collating requests (for plans).

(To request plans or find out more about the services offered by Before You Dig Australia

What do you mean by professionalising the industry?

In times gone by, anyone with locating equipment could be a locator, and while this is still true to a degree, there is now a process for accreditation and utility companies such as Telstra are onboard and clients are becoming more and more aware of the importance of certification and are choosing certified locators.

I think we will continue to see the industry to move in this direction, with more utility companies joining the certification process and clients, especially local government, building and civil construction companies only using certified locators. 

What was the certification process like?

I found the process pretty intense. I’m not a big fan of tests, and to pass BYDA/Telstra certification you have to achieve a pretty high score, from memory at least 96% on the theory test. And that’s before you are even allowed to progress to the practical assessment.

In the prac assessment, not only did you have to follow the process without deviation (Connect, Confirm, Trace, Sanity Check) but they ask questions along the way to test that not only are you doing things correctly but that you can demonstrate in depth knowledge of all things underground service locating and have the ability to recognise poor signals and to problem solve the challenges.

You could locate everything perfectly, but if you can’t explain why you chose a particular frequency, or why the signal is behaving in a certain way, you will fail.

Wow, that is intense. Why do you think the certification process is such a big deal?

It is intense for good reason. The truth is that if standards were lower, there is a much higher risk of locators not being equipped with the skills to do the job properly and that would no doubt lead to unintended utility strikes. When you are dealing with things like electrical cables, especially high voltage, or high pressure gas mains, the risk of major incident is just too high to risk a lower standard of certification.

What do you wish people understood about service locating?

There is a common assumption that we (service locators) are just waving a wand around and it is easy. Yes we are waving a wand around, but our wands are really advanced pieces of technology, and while we are waving it around we are considering, connection method, frequency, soil conditions, signal interference and a whole lot of other stuff to ensure that we can confidently located the pipes and cables.

Service Locator Charlie Euston taking a break from
a job to pose at one of the wind farms in Golden Plains Shire

To find our more about the services offered by DWB Service Locating click Services