Utility Damage Prevention – You can make a difference.

Make Utility Damage Prevention your number ONE priority.

The professional locator needs much more than just locating equipment to accurately and positively identify buried utilities. The paint marks that you locator puts on the ground should NEVER be considered as the exact location of the utility. There are many factors that can and will test the accuracy of the locator’s ability. Remember always, that nothing is found until you visually sight it.

Locators are only the initial step to finding buried utility services: there is another equally important step that must be undertaken before you can, with confidence say that the buried utility is located. You need the services of the vacuum excavator to effectively expose all unseen utilities beneath the earth’s surface.

Exposing the buried services prior to site excavation dramatically reduces the possibility of utility damage on site. Therefore making the project much safer for its workers and drastically reducing any possible litigation risk.

Tips for Utility Protection and Vacuum Excavation

These lessons have been learnt over time and should be of benefit to you when working around buried utilities:

1.       Clearly and accurately mark out the intended site excavation area.  Communicate this information to the locating professional engaged to mark the buried utilities.

2.       Order and have on site the latest utility owner’s plans that you have ordered through the Dial Before You Dig service. Ensure that your locator also has the latest plans to work from. locatingunlimited

3.       Vacuum excavation operators need to have in place safeguards to protect themselves and others whilst machinery is in operation. These include:

o    Face and eye protection

o    High visibility gear

o    Hearing protection

o    Exclusion zone around the work area

o    Sun protection

o    Safe Work Method Statement that is adhered to

4.       Only use trained locators who have the necessary experience and formal qualification to know how their equipment works and how to use it.

5.       Document everything that you do, for the locator photograph all of your location marks. Make sure that you have distinguishable features in each picture. For the vacuum excavator complete a pothole report specifying the type of utility, size of the pipe or conduit, depth to top of service, that you have exposed.

6.       Meet the utility owners Duty of Care requirements for potholing their asset. Pothole parallel running utilities to accurately determine their path. Pothole all utilities that cross your planned excavation path.

7.       Make sure that you also pothole UNDER the utility to determine any “hidden” utility.

8.       Vacuum excavation equipment needs to be tested and approved, and fit for purpose. The cutting nozzle must be the correct one to prevent utility damage. A rotating fan type spray nozzle is the only type recommended for exposing utilities.

9.       Keep the lance moving, remove excess water from the hole, never release the lance trigger with the head under water and do not use the lance as a crow bar.

10.    The use of very high water pressure settings can permanently damage the utility that you are trying to protect. The recommended water pressure setting is no greater than 2200psi with 2,000psi optimal

 Any utility strike has the potential to affect thousands, with possibly fatal consequences. However today we have the ability to prevent these situations form occurring. We all have a shared responsibility to ensure that safe practices and used when working around buried utilities.

locatingunlimitedHere in Australia we are blessed to have available to us a free service from Dial Before You Dig who work tirelessly towards achieving total damage prevention and there are training organisations like Locating Unlimited (www.locatingunlimed.com.au) who provide exceptional training  as well as a number of other services to the locating industry.

Let’s make Utility Damage Prevention our Number One priority!