What is PAS 128: 2022?

PAS 128: 2022 is the British Standards Institution (BSI) Specification for underground utility detection, verification, and location, in simple terms it defines the way underground utilities can be accurately mapped.

It was first published in 2014 and sets out the approach that should be adopted for underground utility detection. It specifies requirements for the detection, verification and location of existing and new underground utilities including active, abandoned, redundant or unknown underground utilities and the location of their associated surface features. (e.g., manhole covers and utility markers). It applies to both public or private land.

Development of PAS 128 was originally sponsored by the Institution of Civil Engineers and funded by parties interested in improving the quality of utility surveys. A panel of experts was assembled and Premier Energy  played a role in the development of the PAS 128 standard.

The standard has now been updated and is now known as PAS 128: 2022. It applies regardless of where these utilities are located (e.g., in urban or rural areas, in the street, or on private sites such as hospitals or airfields). It is critical anyone involved in the planning and design of construction and infrastructure projects is familiar with the updated standard.

The major changes in PAS 128:2022 are:

  • Addition of guidance on training and qualifications of practitioners
  • Updates to the application of post processing in detection surveys
  • New specification for buried utility detection and avoidance to support on-site permits to break ground
  • Updated guidance on the accuracy of detection methods
  • New guidance on the technical factors that dictate the effort required for a detection survey

The PAS 128: 2022 hierarchy.

PAS 128:2022 on underground utility detection specifies requirements for the detection, verification and location of existing and new underground utilities including active, abandoned, redundant or unknown underground utilities and the location of their associated surface features (e.g., manhole covers and utility markers).

It applies regardless of where these utilities are located. (e.g., in urban or rural areas, in the street, or on private sites such as hospitals or airfields).

The standard sets out a hierarchical approach to underground utility detection as well as defining data accuracy when site surveys are undertaken.  

  • A desktop utility record search – Quality level D (QL-D)
    • A comprehensive desktop utility record search.
  • Site reconnaissance – Quality level C (QL-C)
    • An on site visual inspection is completed to validate utility records.
  • Detection – Quality level B (QL-B)
    • Geophysical techniques are used to detect underground utilities. For example, Electromagnetic Location (EML) survey or Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR).
  • Verification – Quality Level A (QL-A)
    • Underground utilities are observed, excavated or exposed.

When are PAS 128: 2022 surveys required?

It’s important to remind everyone of the Health and Safety Executive ‘Avoiding danger from underground services’ guidance known as HSG 47. This includes the following statements on the specific duties of key individuals;

  • Clients – have a duty to make reasonable enquiries about underground services and pass relevant information to the designer(s) and contractor(s).
  • Designers – have a duty to reduce or ‘design out’ the risks arising from damage to underground services. It’s important to know if there are underground services present so that designs can be amended to avoid them.
  • Contractors – Contractors must prepare safe systems of work for their employees by identifying the hazards they are likely to encounter during the work and making a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks posed by those hazards. Clear information on the type, location and status of underground services and the tools, equipment and working practices they will require to avoid damaging the services is essential.

So the PAS 128: 2022 survey level you require will depend on your role, and the current project status.

At the feasibility, planning and design stage: you will need a PAS 128:2022 QL-D utility record search and potentially a QL-C site reconnaissance survey. Premier Energy provides market leading and competitively priced QL-D Desktop Utility Record Searches. In addition, we undertake QL-C survey as part of our comprehensive Utility Reports (a site investigation with visual inspections). We also offer a PAS 128: 2022 compliant Interactive Utility Map which presents the utility record search results in a multi layered interactive existing service drawing making user interpretation simpler and saving considerable time.  

For the construction phase: When you plan to break ground or start physical works you should have access to the QL-D searches (but make sure they are current) as well as any findings from the QL-C Site Reconnaissance. Additionally either PAS 128: 2022 QL-B or QL-A surveys must be undertaken to ensure a safe system is being adopted.

What are the benefits of PAS 128: 2022?

Despite these requirements of HSG47 and PAS 128 there are still thousands of utility strikes annually across the UK. Each of which not only carry the risk of injury, but also the significant cost of repairs and the reputational damage associated with service disruption for customers.

Using the approach set out in PAS 128:2022 has many benefits. These include: 

  • More effective planning and safer execution of street works, civil works and ground works.
  • It provides clarity about the approach to surveys and a consistent approach to data capture.
  • It enables better informed decisions using more complete, up-to-date, and accurate data. This helps ensure the safety and timely progress of projects.
  • It can help prevent or reduce conflicts, delays, unnecessary work, damage to third party assets, utility service disruptions, redesigns, personal injuries and loss of life.

How do I procure a PAS 128 Level C or D survey?

Many people try to source utility record searches directly themselves from various free-to-use websites. However, none of these websites provide the comprehensive search criteria and easy-to-interpret reports that we produce.

So, if you want market-leading services, talk to our experienced team.

To find out more about our PAS 128: 2022 services please see the product links below.

Site Investigation Report – PAS 128 QL-C

Premier Utility Search Report – PAS 128 QL-D

PALM 128 – PAS 128 QL-D

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