We Listen • We Plan • We Deliver

4 Best Practices for Underground Damage Prevention

underground damage prevention
June 20, 2024

Preventing damage to underground utilities is essential. Damage prevention services will help you be proactive and avoid excavation damage before it occurs.

Protecting underground facilities and other critical infrastructure is key to ensuring safe excavation and keeping underground infrastructure working. Utility damage prevention programs are crucial. Prior to excavation, utility lines need to be located and marked. 

Continue reading for our best practices for reducing utility strikes and preventing damage to utilities located underground. 

  1. Have Current, Up-to-Date Maps

One of the best ways to mitigate and reduce utility strikes is to have up-to-date, accurate utility maps. Keep your records up to date and have accurate maps ready to go in case they are needed. 

Any excavation work requires underground utilities to be located. The first step is often to call an 811 call center to receive maps. For any publicly-owned utility, 811 will provide maps. To learn more about 811 and when to call private locate services, check out “Public vs Private Utility Locate Services”.

Having inaccurate or outdated maps will increase the risk of a strike. When updates to maps are made, you need to contact 811 and give them access to the most up-to-date map. Accurate maps that are accessible to those that need it will help protect underground utilities and reduce damages to subsurface lines.

  1. Locate Promptly

Another key to damage prevention is to respond to locate requests quickly. Many state laws only require excavators to wait a few days to start digging after their initial contact with 811. That being said, utility companies do not have a lot of time to respond. 

Respond to locate requests as quickly as possible. Failure to locate utilities in a timely manner can lead to increased strikes, as excavators may choose to dig before they know what’s going on underground. We understand that managing an influx of 811 tickets can be cumbersome. 

We’ve built a suite of software that allows you to easily manage your crews, your projects, and your locate tickets. Learn more by clicking here.

By quickly responding to 811 requests, you can help reduce utility strikes and ensure safe digs.

  1. Communicate Openly

In the world of damage prevention, communication is key. Successful damage prevention requires coordination from the utility operator, project owners, excavators, locatros, and 811 call centers. Because of this, successful damage prevention relies on communication. 

For example, utility companies should provide positive responses to facility locate requests, even when they are not required by law. This allows everyone to be up-to-date on where things are at. It allows excavators to know that there are no challenges or that the utilities are marked in the requested areas.

In addition, excavators should have a line of communication to the utility damage prevention team. Direct communication between these parties facilitates easy communication and, in turn, can reduce strikes.

  1. Learn From Past Mistakes

Another way you can better your damage prevention procedures is to constantly be learning. Learn how to improve, and most importantly, learn from past mistakes.

Damage prevention crews can be everything they can to prevent accidental strikes, but at the end of the day, they will happen. When a utility strike does happen, use it as a learning opportunity to improve your underground prevention systems.

Be reflective and look back to see what could have been done differently. Learn from the experience and use strikes as an opportunity to improve damage prevention and reduce strikes even more in the future.

UtiliSource is your go-to when it comes to utility strike prevention. To learn more about our locate services and damage prevention services, contact us.

Related Articles