The Genesis of the Emerging Damage Prevention Leaders Group
SHOULD I SUBMIT A NORMAL TICKET or a Meet ticket? Why not an Update ticket since the excavation is not yet complete? Something happened in Minnesota that caused a group of underground stakeholders to come together to discuss best practices for when to submit a Normal ticket or a Meet ticket.
During 2018, locate resources were stretched thin. The number of large excavation projects had been increasing over the past several years. Locators were marking excavation areas on large projects that either had already been excavated or where the excavation was not yet scheduled to start. Other excavation sites had issues with being located within the legal timeframe. There were over 86,000 Normal or Update tickets that were updated to extend the legal 14 calendar day excavation period for another 14 days to either complete the excavation or to refresh the locate marks. Many update requests were submitted three or more times for the same original Normal ticket. A number of tickets were updated 5-10 times. Locate resources were required to mark the entire site each time even if excavation took place in stages. A Meet ticket may have been a better choice for these tickets.
In Minnesota, a Normal ticket has an excavation life of 14 calendar days from the legal start date and time on the ticket. An Update ticket request for a Normal ticket can be made when the excavation has not been completed during the 14 calendar day life of the ticket. The Update ticket also has a 14 calendar day life. A Meet ticket is requested when the excavator wants to meet at the work site to discuss details of the project and develop a communication and locate plan with facility operators and locators. If the excavator and underground facility operators agree to periodically verify and refresh the locate marks, a Meet ticket with documentation can last for up to six months.
The group of Minnesota underground stakeholders came together in December of 2018 to discuss and develop recommended best practices for excavation projects that are projected to last more than a month. The goal was to increase the efficiency of locators and reduce the number of unnecessary locates. The stakeholder group learned that numerous updates of the same ticket required the facility operators and contract locators to locate the entire work site, even in areas where excavation was already complete. In these cases, locators were locating excavation areas where no excavation was going to take place. These locate resources were needed on sites where excavation was actually going to take place.
Communication became the key word as the stakeholder group explored the issues. How often does the excavator need to talk with the locator? How often do the marks need to be refreshed? How long will the excavation project take? The consensus building process resulted in these recommended best practices for submitting Normal and Meet tickets:
Normal Tickets: When the excavator expects to complete the work and go on to the next job. The work may be at a single address and little or no communication is needed with the locator.
Meet Tickets: When ongoing communication with locators is needed. Examples of these projects include when areas of the work site will need to be located at different times, there is a long stretch of roadway, the project will take over a month to complete, or the site is complex with a complicated layout.
For 2019, the Minnesota underground stakeholder group hopes that by communicating this best practice, more excavators will submit the appropriate Normal or Meet ticket requests so that locator resources will be able to locate Normal tickets more efficiently while locating those areas of large projects in sync with the excavation schedule.
Barabara Cederberg is Chief Operations Officer of Gopher State One Call. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.