It is not uncommon to see old equipment still being used by contractors throughout the country on construction sites. While this equipment may still get the job done, it can pose serious safety concerns as it may not be equipped with the latest safety features. While making sure safe practices are followed is important, just as important is using equipment with the latest built-in safety features to ensure that workers get home to their families at the end of the day.

An eye on safety

Microtunnelling sites can be dangerous with workers not only working near heavy equipment, but also the open pit where installation takes place.

Compared to open cut methods of pipeline installation, microtunnelling requires much less excavation to take place, making is a safer option. However, there are still hazards as there is a risk of materials falling into the pit and hurting workers.

The AXIS laser-guided boring system was designed with these risks in mind to provide a superior level of operator safety compared to other microtunnelling equipment on the market.

There are safety features unique to this machine that no other microtunnelling machine on the market comes with such as the Falling Object Protective System (FOPS) safety enclosure.

The operator can stay in the FOPS safety enclosure for the duration of the drill and be fully protected from their surrounding environment. This means they are protected from above should anything fall into the pit, as they aren’t exposed to the outside environment.

The FOPS safety enclosure has been rigorously tested to ensure it can stand the real-world conditions of a construction site, with tests showing heavy equipment such as drill rods can fall onto it from as high as ten metres without showing signs of damage.

Alerting operators of changes

Another safety feature unique to the AXIS is the inclusion of gauges – including a vacuum gauge equipped at the rear of the machine – to alert the operator to condition changes so they can stop the drill to assess the situation and make sure it is safe to proceed.

The information they feed direct to the operator on changes in ground pressure can alert them to potential upcoming hazards such as contact with a trench that could be housing live wires, which haven’t been located by utility locating services.

In addition to the pressure gages, the AXIS has an in-built strike alert mechanism that will notify the operator should the drill come in contact with a power cable and become live.

By alerting the operator the machine has become live, they can safely remain in the machine until the power source has been deactivated and it is safe to exit.

This advanced safety technology is one of the real benefits of using the AXIS machine.

Keeping safety front of mind

Safety is not only a concern for contractors, but also utilities and other asset owners who are interested in reducing the risk of injury on job sites.

At the end of the day, it’s in everyone’s best interests to prevent any accidents or injuries occurring on site, so contractors with the ability to show their commitment to safety through their practices and equipment will have an advantage over those using older equipment.

The reality is, newer equipment will have more safety features included and it is important that all contractors across the country step up to the standard by updating their equipment and safety procedures.

This Ask an Expert content was brought to you by Edge Underground. For more information, visit

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

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