From the Publisher

DAMAGE PREVENTION without Locators would be as effective as a Car without Wheels

If you are reading this article, you probably have a great deal of respect for the role locators play in keeping excavators and the public safe. However, there is a huge percentage of people in the public – and even the industry – who have no idea how vital their role is. Getting people to request a locate is obviously extremely important, but if the locate is not accurate the risk of damage and injury is high. This disconnect between the weight of locators’ responsibilities and the recognition of that role is why we created Locator Safety & Appreciation Week (LSAW) back in 2014. This year LSAW is being held April 24 – 30.

Being a locator is a challenging job which can combine incredible time pressure with the need for accuracy. Add to that the fact that the locate technician may be working at –10°F with 20 mph winds, or in 110°F heat. Some locates are near or on busy roadways where technicians must keep their head up to watch for traffic while also looking down at their equipment. These factors, and many more, make learning how to locate well a difficult task. It takes time, diligent practice, and grit to become a good locate technician. All these factors also make it exceedingly difficult to find, hire, and keep good locate technicians.

This year, we launched the Global Locate Masters (GLM) competition to display locators’ skills and to encourage continual learning. The Locate Rodeo has been the traditional way for locators to compete, but rodeos are difficult to conduct, time consuming, and they can be impacted by weather. The Global Locate Masters takes skills competition to a next level! This unique competition tests the abilities of top locate technicians from around the world using UTTO’s VR simulators. These simulators create complex locate experiences in an immersive environment that challenge a technician’s training, skill, experience, and the attention to detail required for a successful locate.

The Global Locate Masters gives technicians the unprecedented opportunity to highlight their skills in front of a live audience of peers and industry leaders and evaluate their performance against other competitors. The competition recognizes, rewards, and shines a spotlight on the world’s best utility locating professionals by putting on display the years of experience, critical thinking, and mental agility each competitor brings to complete quality locates in a timely manner.

This past January, right here in Minnesota, a group came together to put on a state version of the GLM. This was a tremendously successful event driven by the efforts of Barb Cederberg of Gopher State One Call, Justin Larson with Xcel Energy, Mike Mendiola of MNOPS, and Steve Olinger with CenterPoint Energy. You could see how excited and competitive the technicians were, especially when their score flashed up on the screen. After they completed a run, Tom Orth of UTTO offered insights on where they lost points and how they could have done a better locate. You can check out the full story and learn how to put on a GLM qualifying event in your area on page 30.

In Phoenix, at the GLM Championship, the competition was held in a 30’ x 30’ area on the Expo floor so competitors got lots of visibility. This was a great way to highlight the important role locate technicians play while adding some fun to the expo. Non-competitors also had a chance to try out the UTTO simulator and learn more about how locating technology works. To see the top three winners of the 2022 GLM go to page 28.

I urge you to go to LocatorSafety.com to see all the free tools and learn how to celebrate LSAW in your company this year.

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