LOCATOR SAFETY & APPRECIATION Week (LSAW) is April 19-25. This annual celebration brings to the forefront the need to recognize the important job locators do, thank them for their diligence and hard work, and provide them with tips and tools designed to help keep them safe on the job.
Why should you care? Well, the short answer is, because somewhere, sometime, somehow, a locator saved your life. Seems a little far-fetched, right? Well, let’s really think about that. There are 19 million miles of underground utility lines buried in the United States alone. Ground disturbers call in more than 25 million locates each year. Each of those 25 million locates requires a trained locate technician to physically inspect the dig site and put marks on the ground indicating where a utility is located or clear the dig site through electronic means. Keep in mind, the United States is 3.797 million square miles.
So, using totally unscientific logic, the google machine, and simple basic math, the following statistics can be generally assumed. (Obviously, New York City has a heck of a lot more than, say, Alaska’s Yukon-Koyukuk, but like I said, we’re not being scientific.) In the United States, on average:
• A single square mile contains 5 miles of buried utilities.
• 6.5 locate requests are submitted for each square mile each year.
• About 68,500 locates are performed every day; almost ½ million each week!
Now, some industry reporting likes to focus on the number of damages attributable to locators, using ominous phrases like, “28% of all damages are attributable to locating root causes.” That sounds like a really big, really scary number. And don’t get me wrong – it is a big number, about 123,000 annually. I am not trying to discount the value of knowing this number or minimize its importance. We need to know this number, and we need to do everything we can to reduce this number. The goal is zero damages and we still have a long way to go to get there.
So applying my logic to this, that means about 24.87 million locates are performed accurately every year in the United States, saving countless lives, including, possibly, yours!
But, for a minute, I want to focus on a different number. One that celebrates our locators instead of blaming them (again, using my unscientific little google search) – 0.49%
That’s right. Less than half of one percent of all locates performed actually result in a damaged utility. So applying my logic to this, that means about 24.87 million locates are performed accurately every year in the United States, saving countless lives, including, possibly, yours!
As we move into Locator Safety & Awareness Week, I want us to take a moment to really think about the staggering implications of that statement. These amazing industry professionals do their job completely right more than 99.5% of the time.
That is the theme of this year’s LSAW celebration. As you are looking for ways to honor the locators you know, help us promote the message,
“We trust locators’ hard work, discipline, and accurate marks to get us home safely to our families and loved ones. Thank you, locators, for providing the comfort of safety with your daily diligence.”
Visit LocatorSafety.com for tools and resources (many free and some new) available to help you promote LSAW this year! Be sure to share with us what you did for publication in a future issue of dp-PRO.