AS METRONET BUILDS OUT ITS 100% FIBER NETWORK in communities near you, we see the damage prevention world from every angle. This article focuses on the perspective of our contractors and the challenges they encounter. Subsequent articles will look at the process from the perspective of locators, utilities, One Call, as well as the community in general.
Part 1: An Excavator’s View
Contractors know unmarked or mismarked locates can lead to:
• Harmful and possibly deadly consequences to their employees and the community
• Costly repairs, fines, and downtime
• Disruption of work, leaving crews with nothing to do, while still receiving wages
• Loss of financial incentives for on-time completion
• Loss of future business and harm to their reputation
• Higher insurance costs
• Disrupted construction schedules
• Abandoned/not abandoned facilities
Contractors submit locate requests expecting their work areas will be located and marked within the time allotted by the law in the state where they are working. Unfortunately, that does not always occur. In general, contractors want to do the right thing and are willing to work with the locators to stay ahead of them. New tools like Positive Response and project tickets help; however, opportunities for improvement do exist. The key to improvement is communication.
When MetroNet enters a new market, we proactively reach out to all players involved. We submit locates online on behalf of our contractors in order to reduce One Call traffic. We also share our construction schedule with all affected parties. Our OSP engineers visit each jobsite daily, ensuring our contractors have adequate paint on the ground in front of them. We also look for reroutes in heavily congested areas. We hold weekly, sometimes daily, calls with locators to address any issues, and monthly roundtable meetings for contractors and locators. In addition to training our contractors thoroughly on proper safety procedures, we also conduct weekly safety audits of our contractors to ensure compliance.
What are the Contractor’s Options?
Workarounds should never be an option. They overload the locating world forcing the locators to be further ahead, or jump around consuming valuable resources and increasing job extensions from One Call. Also, when an area is left uncompleted it reduces residents’ confidence in us. Some ideas to keep things manageable:
• Understand the other partner’s position. They share many of the same issues with workload and staffing.
• Collaborative planning, before and during the project.
• Constant communications and schedule updates.
• Seek out mutual solutions and work together to achieve them.
• Break up locate requests into a manageable size, allowing the locators to stay one step ahead of you.
• White line the proposed bore path. This simple act goes a long way with building the relationships needed for a successful project buildout.
As excavators, we also need to realize that we are not the only people who are out there digging. With a growing economy and record low unemployment, the entire construction industry is struggling to keep up with the demand. Only by working together can we complete our projects safely and on time.