There are almost 19 million miles of buried pipelines, power lines, and telephone cables in the United States. That is the length of a football field of buried infrastructure for every man, woman, and child. When an excavator hits any of these, it can lead to explosions, loss of 911 service, power outages, electric shock, flooded streets, and even injuries or fatalities. If you dig on the job or at home, work for a company that digs, or work for a company or government agency that has pipelines, power lines, or cables in the ground, you can help reduce damages or even save a life. Safety is good business no matter what role your company plays.
The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) DIRT Report found that if an excavator calls 811 to request that underground facilities be located and marked, there is less than a 1% chance that the excavator will hit a buried facility. In sharp contrast, 26% of damages resulting from hitting an underground facility are caused by someone not making that free 811 call. These damages affect public safety and cost everyone involved a great deal of money.
We all have a responsibility to help protect the public. You can have a positive impact on public safety, and your company’s bottom line, by helping educate people within your company or your neighborhood on the 5 simple steps to safe excavation:
1. Call 811 before you dig
2. Wait the required amount of time
3. Confirm the underground facilities have been marked
4. Respect the marks
5. Dig carefully
According to the CGA, educating all stakeholders on safe digging practices has a dramatic effect on reducing damages. Repairs and associated costs can run into the millions of dollars, but what makes a person passionate about damage prevention is the knowledge that their efforts may save someone’s life.
The best opportunity to get educated is to have a group of people from your company attend the annual CGA 811 Conference and Expo March 11-13, 2014 in Phoenix. This excellent industry conference has been in existence since 2006 and in that short time it has grown to nearly 2000 attendees from every state and 9 countries. We, in Arizona, have been able to implement many of the ideas learned at the CGA Conference which have had a positive effect on our business and on damage prevention in our state. Apparently we are not alone because the conference organizer’s attendee survey results show that 98.1% of attendees believe they will be able to implement change at the company based on what they learned at the conference.
This quote from Bob Darket, with DTE Electric, really mirrors my feelings about the conference, “If you take damage prevention seriously, you owe it to your customers, your organization and the general public to gain the knowledge that the CGA Annual conference will provide.”
To really get involved, consider putting together a group from your company and attend the 2014 CGA Conference. If you want to have a positive impact on public safety and your company’s bottom line, pick one of the CGA tools and make a plan to do something specific in the next 30 days.
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