Technology may be the best thing to ever happen to the digging industry. Whereas older methods of excavation required much more invasive, time-consuming work, companies can now perform their dig with greater efficiency, thanks to advancements in tech.
Among the methods that are now commonly employed, vacuum excavation is one of the most effective. As you know, vacuuming digs up materials using a combination of water and air, and suctions them up into a tank until it’s ready to be removed.
However, like any other work in this industry, you need to make sure you follow set rules and regulations before you begin the job. Here are a few important guidelines to heed when using vacuum excavation.
This is practically a given, since vacuuming relies on a simple, direct way of digging. However, it’s important to ensure that your machine is designed to prevent destruction underground. If you’re unfamiliar with the brand of excavator or have no references to rely on, you should either do more research or see what else is on the market. Even if you’ve been trained on a particular machine, the last thing you want is a surprise accident as you dig.
As with any type of job, you always need to instill proper safety measures before you begin digging. Although the conditions with vacuum excavation are generally safer than with traditional jobs (it allows for a more exact and efficient dig), you still have to prepare your site in case of emergency. It’s possible that you could hit a utility line. In the unlikely event that this does happen, make sure everyone on your site knows the procedures front to back. This includes wearing the proper safety gear. For example, dielectric boots and gloves will help protect you if something goes wrong.
Once you’ve developed a plan of recourse should you encounter an emergency, it’s not a bad idea to put it in writing as a precaution. For one thing, this will serve as proof of preparation should something go wrong later. If you’re working within a facility, you can also notify the site owner of your written procedures, in the event that he or she wants to check.
Make sure your operators have been properly trained. It’s tempting to use someone who perhaps has other kinds of digging experience, assuming that he’ll know what to do. However, you always want to be in compliance with OSHA, which mandates that the equipment be handled by a so-called “competent person.” Not only are operators required to have the right training, OSHA’s minimum requirements include knowledge of first aid, CPR, and electrical awareness, to name a few.
Call for locates
It goes without saying – although it’s never unnecessary – that you should call 811 before digging at a site. Verifying the 811 locates yourself with a utility locator will ensure that the lines underground are accurately identified. Even with the precision afforded by vacuuming, you just can’t risk cutting an electrical line or causing a gas leak. A little bit of homework goes a long way. You’ll ensure that you’re digging in the right place, which of course will save time and effort in the long run.