Excavation can be dangerous business. Our industry maintains a high standard of safety because of the potential fallout that can occur as a result of an accident on a job site. While unfortunate incidents aren’t common per se, they do happen from time to time. Fortunately, though, the chances of an accident can be minimized as long as everyone adheres to industry best practices in safety.
The full list of safety procedures is (appropriately) long, but there are certain fundamental rules that every excavator should follow, from pre-planning through completion of a job. What follows isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but it does include crucial procedures that will dramatically reduce the potential for an incident on a job site.
Every excavation company needs to use this free service before it starts a dig. In addition to enacting an important chain of events designed for safety, it really couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is call the national 811 hotline and notify the operator of your intent and location of your upcoming job. From there, the operator will route your request to a local call center, and as a result, utility companies will be alerted of your plans. Typically, an employee from the companies will head out to your proposed site within a few days to mark the presence of gas and power lines with colored flags. This is important, as it allows you to officially move forward with your excavation.
Use utility locators
After the site has been marked by the utility companies, it’s time for you to do your own pre-dig work. This is where utility locators come in, as you may know. By using an accurate, high-end location device, you can identify any critical or high-risk underground lines and you can determine the depth of the lines that have been marked. Whether it’s a basic underground pipe locator or more sophisticated device such as McLaughlin’s G2 Verifier, utility detectors can increase your chances of accurate line detection. Of course, once all of the lines have been located, you can rest assured that your project will be safe and secure.
Next, soft-digging or potholing is an important step to help visually verify the underground lines.
As with any kind of professional setting, maintaining clear communication is key during excavation. However, unlike, say, a typical office setting, communication between professionals on an excavation or drilling jobsite could mean the difference between life and death. Before the project starts, everyone should be clear on the intent of the excavation, the equipment involved, and the people working on the site. Even if this information seems overly obvious, you should keep everyone in the loop to minimize the chance of an accident. Additionally, each person needs to know the procedures in the event that an accident does occur. For example, what are the appropriate steps and proper lines of notification and communication to take if someone hits a power or gas line? This question and others like it should be addressed ahead of time.