Any type of digging you do involves some risk due to the volume of underground utility lines in our cities. Hitting an electrical, sewer, water or gas line can cause serious injuries and can even knock that utility out for the entire neighborhood. On top of that, hitting a utility line brings the entire construction project to a halt.
The good news is that there are plenty of procedures when it comes to excavation and underground utilities that keep employees out of harm’s way and ensure the neighborhood doesn’t have any outages. Keep reading to learn a little bit more about our safety procedures:
- Utilize a utility locator: An underground utility locator is the best tool to use before any excavation begins. This tool will determine both the location of the line and its depth. Keep in mind that utilities can shift over time, so this tool is essential even if you have a map of the utilities in the area.
- Use caution after flagging: You’ll need to mark and flag any utility lines you find, but remember that you need to stay at least four feet away from any marked areas. If you must dig closer to the flagged line, use a hand tool instead of heavy machinery to avoid doing major damage.
- Make a thorough plan: Creating a master plan is essential when it comes to safety and excavation around utility lines. Your plan will help you determine the next steps if you located any lines in your proposed excavation route.
- Call 811 when in doubt: Heavy rainstorms can wash away paint or even your flags. Be sure to dial 811—the national underground utility locating service number—if you’re worried your flags or markings are no longer correct.
- Use hydro excavation equipment: Instead of digging with heavy machinery, consider using hydro excavation equipment. This process involves using a combination of high-pressure water and a vacuum to remove soil around utility lines without damaging the actual lines. This method is a bit more expensive, but it’s your best bet for safety in excavation around utility lines.
- Prepare for surprises: The old saying “prepare for the worst, but hope for the best” is applicable when it comes to excavating near underground utilities. Whether it’s calling the utility company or contacting the property owner, be sure to have a plan ready if someone on your crew hits a line.
- Create a new record: Your project has one extra step if you run into an underground utility, in that you’ll need to create a new record of where those utilities are located. This helps both your company and any other contractors avoid excavation issues in the future.
Trust our team to get the job done safely
Safety is our priority when it comes to excavation and underground utilities. With over 45 years of industry experience, you can count on Lewis and Tibbitts, Inc. to safely excavate an area and install any utility lines. Contact us today to learn more about our full scope of services.