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Prevent Utility Strikes: A Guide to Damage Prevention

damage prevention
June 13, 2024

Buried utility lines are a challenge during excavation projects. Accidental utility strikes are dangerous and expensive. The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) reports that in 2021, utility damages resulted in $30 billion in costs. 

Most construction projects require some sort of excavation or digging. Any digging operations present a risk to underground utility lines. Utility strikes occur when a subsurface utility is damaged during a dig. These strikes may result in property damage, disruption of utility services, and costly repairs. 

It is vital to safe work practices to take steps to prevent damage to underground utilities and reduce underground utility strikes. Reduce the risk and avoid utility network strikes with damage prevention programs. 

There are few things utility companies can do to protect underground water, gas, and electric lines. Continue reading to learn more about protecting underground facilities and avoiding utility damages.

Always Plan Before You Dig

The best thing you can do to prevent utility strikes is to plan ahead and be aware of what’s going on underneath your feet. This responsibility falls on both the utility provider and the construction project owner. Each party must do their due diligence to ensure utilities are located and marked accurately. 

You need to be aware of any underground facilities before you dig. For public lines, call 811 public locate services and for private lines, reach out to a private utility locator, like UtiliSource.

Verify Utility Location Markers

Before you can dig, it is also important to verify the site. Contact a utility locating service to verify 811 locates. 

These services may use a process called “potholing” to verify locates in a non-invasive way. This is used to identify the exact position and depth of the utilities. It can even be used to find signs of damage to underground utility lines. 

Before you dig, the location of each utility needs to be verified to further reduce utility strikes. Private locate services can help identify inconsistencies in utility maps and ensure a safe dig. In addition, not all utilities fall under 811, a private locator will also ensure that no additional utilities are located on site.

Proper Training is Key 

Another potential risk to utilities is untrained, or improperly trained, crews. Lack of training can decrease job site safety and increase the risk of a strike. Make sure your entire crew is knowledgeable about what’s going on underground.

Plan for Emergencies

Our final tip for preventing utility damage is to plan ahead in case of an emergency. Companies must have a plan in place just in case something goes wrong and a utility is hit. 

This should be a fully-built, well thought out plan with procedures on how to respond. It should include the steps to properly report the strike. It should include steps to prevent damages as well. Installation and excavation should be overseen to ensure that safe digging operations are being followed. 

Every person in the crew should be informed of correct procedures. This will further prevent accidental strikes and reduce the risk of injury. 

Utility strike prevention is key to any project that requires digging. It is always important to plan ahead and take steps to prevent strikes before they happen. To learn more about damage prevention services and utility locate services, contact UtiliSource today.

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