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Problems with Utility Locating and How to Address Issues

This was originally sent out as our December 2020 Newsletter

I. CGA in Depth Report

The CGA recently released a White Paper that shines some light on problems facing the industries we serve. After surveying more than 400 locate technicians, performing in-depth interviews with industry managers and decision-makers, and analyzing the recently released 2019 DIRT report, there are some clear conclusions that can be drawn:

  • The volume and variability of tickets are huge challenges for the locating industry.
  • White-lining and updated facility maps may be the industry’s most effective paths to timelier and more accurate locates.
  • Retaining an experienced workforce is likely to produce better safety outcomes.
  • Reimagining relationships between key stakeholders can dramatically move the industry forward

II. Damages Trending Upwards

It has become increasingly obvious there are significant cracks in the one-call process, and identifying specific, actionable, issues is our best chance to improving safety and reducing damages. In 2019 it is estimated that while damages trended upwards for the 5th consecutive year, the cost to the industry exceeded $30 billion.  If we are to find a way to change the trend, reduce the cost of damages, and improve safety, we need to change the conversation.

Compounding the problem, we are all now isolated to some extent.  Conferences and trade shows where vital conversations can take place have all been cancelled.  Local meetings between facility operators and excavators have stopped almost entirely.  Local Damage Prevention Councils and Utility Coordinating Committees are struggling to find a way to connect.

III. Improving Communication at the Point of Contact

According to the DIRT Report, there were over 70,00 damages due to locating issues, and another 80,000 damages with no call for a locate.

A practical way to mitigate the risk of mis-marked, and unmarked utilities, is providing a permanent marker at the point of contact, to warn potential excavators to the presence of buried facilities.

In densely populated urban areas it is not practical to install upright posts and signs.  Rhino UV Armor+ Surface markers allow for highly visible markers that will last for more than a decade, and warn any potential excavators to the presence of a buried utility.


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