Rules To Dig By, Including Best Practices For Safe Excavation

Damage prevention is everyone’s responsibility. Utility owners, excavators, locators and the One Call centers. Each has a unique responsibility that requires a trusting relationship. Hundreds of workers are killed or injured in electrical contacts every year in the U.S. Millions of dollars are paid for damages, lost time and third-party claims.

At ComEd, we take damage prevention seriously. We have a Damage Prevention Department that can assist our excavating crews with questions regarding excavation practices and locator issues. If requested, the group can also provide training to new construction crews as well as refresher training.

To assist our crews, we provide a checklist with some helpful reminders when digging. We have a saying that has gone a long way with our crews in avoiding damages to our facilities and other’s facilities – “A locate request is not a license to dig.” We also created a two-sided card for the crews with some basic information on best practices to carry in their wallet. Educating your team on best practices and the laws in the jurisdiction you work in is the key to safety and compliance.

While teaming up with JULIE One Call Damage Prevention managers, we offer free training to outside excavators. Education has proven to be one of the most successful tools available to our Damage Prevention team and it provides a name and a face of the company when excavators have questions or issues. Where possible, the Damage Prevention team also investigates any incidents to obtain information which may be used to assist excavators and locators with improving their own best practices so that they can avoid putting themselves and the public at risk when excavating. We have also offered this training to other facility owners (municipal water, sewer and gas) that excavate around our facilities and have seen a marked decrease in the incidents caused by their excavations. And lastly, we have provided this information to locators so they better understand the importance of their job. We encourage them to communicate these practices with the rest of their excavating community with the hope that the excavator will stop, think, and make the best decision when an issue arises on the dig site. This has gone a long way in developing better working relationships with the excavators.

6 Best Practices for Safe Excavation:

  1. Plan your job and pre-mark your dig area.
  2. Call 811 before you dig.
  3. Wait the required amount of time.
  4. Conduct a visual site survey.
  5. Respect the marks.
  6. Dig with care.

Verify Your One Call Ticket

CHECK YOUR: Date, Time, Location, Scope, and Extent of ticket

LOOK FOR: New marks, Old marks, and Permanent Facility Markers

USE: Maps, Work Orders, and Prints

INVESTIGATE FOR: Transformers, Pedestals, Downfeeds, and Meters

WORK MUST: Begin within lawful time of One Call ticket (or call again)

CALL ONE CALL CENTER FOR: Refresh, Incomplete Marks, or Confusing Marks

Utilize the STAR process – Stop • Think • Act • Review

NEVER ASSUME: A facility route is in a straight line. Locating marks are accurate, utilities are at proper depth, or that no marks mean there are no underground utilities

Never: Use powered equipment such as trenchers, backhoes and augers until you have verified marks are accurate

HAND DIG: To verify facilities when working within 24 inches

CALL: Damage Prevention when marks are in question

RESPECT: All One Call marks, never waive a call back

A Dig Ticket Is Not a License To Dig!

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1 thought on “Rules To Dig By, Including Best Practices For Safe Excavation”

  1. Pingback: Bringing the HIDDEN Infrastructure into the Light of Day | dp-PRO

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