Dig Safe Month
When the State of Washington implemented damage prevention legislation, the hardest part for the departments and organizations involved was determining how that legislation would be enforced. They wanted a system that helped to change people’s behaviour around buried utilities, to prevent lines from getting cut, but they wanted it focused education, rather than penalties—and above all they wanted to ensure there was no fiscal impact on taxpayers.
The solution was to establish a safety committee with a panel of industry experts who hear complaints from all parties involved in ground disturbance incidents. The panel, which is composed of between three to five members, changes from one case to the next. The members who make up the panel are selected based on their similar work experiences and industry backgrounds to the parties involved in the incident, including contractors, locators and utility owners.
Don Evans, the executive director of Washington 811, says that by choosing panel members from the same industries ensures that those overseeing the case already possess the expertise to understand the case and the experience necessary to ask the right questions.
Evans says the greatest benefit of the safety committee’s panel is that contractors and locators have the opportunity to make their case and they know that when they do, they will be treated fairly, even when their complaint is against a much larger company. There are no lawyers involved in the process. Instead, all parties are given the chance to represent themselves. It’s peers talking to peers. The system works because each person’s peers are holding them accountable to the damage prevention process.
“When talking with people who know what they do, the nonsense falls to the side,” Evans says.
After hearing from each party, the panel decides whether any violations have occurred and prepares a recommendation which they send to the Utility Transportation Commission (UTC). The panel itself has no authority to enforce the legislation. Instead the UTC receives the recommendation and their investigator conducts an analysis. The commission then sends the recommendation, along with their findings, to an administrative law judge for penalty assessments.
When the UTC considers a recommendation, they are looking for an observable change in behaviour for those responsible for an incident. Along with monetary penalties, which begin at $1,000 for the first infraction and grow to $5,000 for a second infraction, there is also the option to attend education sessions or training courses.
Penalties are handed out based on infractions. multiple parties are at fault for an incident, each party is required to either pay fines or attend educational sessions. If someone wishes to appeal the case, they may also request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge.
Lynda Hollaway, damage prevention program manager with UTC, says that the process has produced unexpected benefits for the State of Washington.
“The UTC wasn’t used to receiving recommendations,” Lynda Holloway says. “But in some ways, it has saved us a lot of work.”
Because the safety committee is the first place that hears from all parties involved in an incident, it has reduced the number of small claims cases which the government has handled.
The panel is funded by utility companies and produces no fiscal impact on government or on taxpayers. The monetary penalties which the UTC receives are used exclusively to fund damage prevention initiatives and education. The State of Washington spent the money on damage prevention classes for excavators and utility locator classes, which they have been able to provide for free.
Since the committee was formed, Washington has seen a large drop in the number of incidents in areas where they have put on classes and done advertising campaigns. In turn, they have seen an increase in the number of people involved in damage prevention and eager to sit on the panel.
NIAGARA FALLS, ONT. (Oct. 9, 2019) – The Canadian Common Ground Alliance (CCGA) released the 2018 Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) Report in Niagara Falls, Ontario on Wednesday during its annual National Damage Prevention Symposium. This report presents characteristics, themes and contributing factors leading to damages in Canada as reported via the DIRT system.
Download the Report
In 2018, there were 11,693 damages reported via DIRT for Canada; on average, 47 reported damages per work day (assuming 254 work days per year). The societal cost of these damages to underground infrastructure in Canada continues to be estimated at least $1 billion per year.
Among all damage reports with an identified and known root cause, 22% occurred because no locate request was made to a One Call Centre and 38% were the result of insufficient excavation practices.
While reporting damages in DIRT is voluntary, the data is critical for the CCGA to determine root causes and develop mitigating measures to reduce and eliminate them.
The complete 2018 DIRT Report is available to download at www.canadiancga.com. Stakeholders interested in submitting data to the 2019 report, or establish a Virtual Private Dirt account, should visit the DIRT website at www.cga-dirt.com.
The Canadian Common Ground Alliance (CCGA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing public safety, and increasing the integrity and reliability of Canada’s underground utility infrastructure through the development and implementation of effective and efficient damage prevention practices across Canada. As Canada’s unified voice on damage prevention, the CCGA attracts members from all Canadian national organizations and associations who share common damage prevention and public safety solutions. The CCGA and its Regional Partners welcome all stakeholders who wish to be part of the identification and promotion of best practices that reduce damage to buried utilities.
President – Canadian Common Ground Alliance
Media Inquiries: info@CanadianCGA.com
Know What's Below
The ABCGA and the BCCGA are pleased to announce that Global Training Centre have been endorsed to the Ground Disturbance 201 (British Columbia) Standard!
Global Training Centre have been granted full endorsement of their Ground Disturbance Level II classroom training program as meeting the requirements of the Ground Disturbance 201 (British Columbia) Standard, effective as of Aug. 21, 2019.
See our list of endorsed training providers.
Beginning September 16, 2019, all Contractor and Member locate requests must be submitted online. Following a three-month grace period, this mandate will be enforced January 1, 2020.
Locate requests submitted by phone are more likely to result in damage to underground infrastructure due to challenges associated with verbally relaying the precise location of proposed excavations. When a locate request is placed online through the web portal, however, precise dig site information is drawn on a map by the excavating party and relayed directly from them to the utility owner and/or their locating crew eliminating verbal description and interpretation challenges. In relation to this, Alberta One-Call Corporation examined all damages to underground infrastructure in Calgary and Edmonton between June 2017 and May 2018 and concluded a significantly higher rate of damage, respectively in those cities, when locate requests were submitted by phone rather than the web.
Emergency and Homeowner locate requests, and locate requests placed by satellite phone for ground disturbances in locations where there is no cellular service, are exempt from this rule.
The majority of Contractors and Members have already shifted the locate request process to the web. In June 2019, 90% of all locate requests from Contractors, and 93% of all locate requests from Alberta One-Call Members, were submitted online.
AOC hosts weekly web-training webinars. Sign-up for the next one HERE.
Please send questions to Info@AlbertaOneCall.com.
Alberta One-Call Corporation
The new Large Project Ticket for locate requests in Western Canada will go live on Monday, June 17.
For contractors who are undertaking large, pre-planned projects—where work will occur over large areas and continue for a significant length of time—the new ticket type will allow them to map much larger areas on a single ticket: up to 800,000 square metres in an urban area, or up to 4.2 square kilometres in a rural area.
The new ticket type is being introduced in order to resolve unforeseen issues related to dig site restrictions which appeared following the release of the new one-call software in Western Canada.
With the release of the new ticket type, previous changes to regular project tickets will be partially rolled back. The interim changes, made in March, had temporarily increased the maximum dig-site size for urban and rural areas. On June 17, the maximum dig-site size for project tickets in rural areas will be reduced from 4.2 square kilometres to 800,000 square metres; however, the maximum size for project tickets in urban areas will remain at 60,000 square metres.
The new large project ticket type and the recent changes to regular project tickets will reduce the number of tickets that excavators and locators must manage while working on large jobs, reduce the risk of gaps occurring in the mapped work area whenever multiple tickets are required, and facilitate the timely completion of locates for large jobs.
Before You Dig Partners (BYDP) are continuing their free weekly webinar series, which reviews the submission process and recent changes to the one-call software, to help customers address any issues or hurdles they have encountered.
Their previous webinar series, which ran from March 14 until May 30, has now been expanded into a “basics” webinar and an “advanced” webinar. The first webinar covers the basics of submitting locate requests online using the new software, while the second “advanced” session, highlights complex ticket types and reviews recent software changes.
The webinar series is held each Thursday from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM Mountain Time and will alternate weekly between the “basics” session and the “advanced” session. The new sessions began June 13 and will run until September 26.
Register for the Basics Webinar.
Register for the Advanced Webinar.
The process for safely conducting activities near interprovincial or international power lines is currently provided in the NEB Act and in the Power Line Crossing Regulations under the NEB Act.
The proposed Canadian Energy Regulator Act, as part of Bill C-69, updates the regulatory framework for safely conducting activities near interprovincial or international power lines to match that already in place for pipelines damage prevention. It reflects modern damage prevention regulatory frameworks and practices in place across Canada. As a result the regulations need to be updated.
A Consultation Paper including the proposed Power Line Damage Prevention Regulations is available on the NRCan website for comment. If you have comments on the proposed regulations, please send them by June 7, 2019 to the damage prevention email address (PLdamagepreventionregs@neb-one.gc) provided in the Consultation Paper.
Once the comment period closes, written comments will be posted on the NRCan Public Consultations Opportunities web page. Your comments will be reviewed and considered as part of the completion of the regulations, related document and communications. The final Regulations, along with the Regulatory Impact Analysis Statements will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, following Royal Assent of Bill C-69. A summary of the comments received, as well as a detailed outline of any changes to the proposed Regulations, will be provided in the Regulatory Impact Analysis Statements.
Please visit the NRCan website for information and updates on the proposed regulations. You may also sign up there to be included in an email distribution list for receiving updates as the Regulations are developed, including information on public engagement opportunities.
The ABCGA is pleased to announce that Southeast College have been endorsed to the Ground Disturbance 201 (Alberta) Standard!
Southeast College have been granted full endorsement of their Ground Disturbance for Supervisors and Workers classroom training program as meeting the requirements of the Ground Disturbance 201 (Alberta) Standard, effective as of May 8, 2019.
See our list of endorsed training providers.
A big day for damage prevention in Alberta! The Standing Committee on Resource Stewardship has recommended that Bill 211 proceed. The committee's final report will be presented to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta later in March.
We'd like to thank everyone who came out to the committee's meeting on Tuesday to support Bill 211! Your support got Bill 211 approved by the committee!
If you would like to read the transcripts from the Standing Committee on Resource Stewardship meetings, they are available on the committee's website.
With a provincial election approaching, we know it's unlikely that Bill 211 will receive another reading by the legislature. However, our goal has always been the recommendation by the Resource Stewardship Committee. The committee's report will provide us with a big step forward once the Legislative Assembly reconvenes following the provincial election. It will move us that much closer to comprehensive damage prevention legislation in Alberta!
Thank you again for all of your support!
All of us at the ABCGA
Edmonton, AB: Saturday March 2nd, The Alberta Common Ground Alliance will be recognizing the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Mill Woods gas line explosion. A tragic event that left one man permanently disfigured, led to the evacuation of 17,000+ Mill Woods residents, and resulted in the creation of Alberta One Call and the Call Before You Dig initiative across Canada.
Discover more about this local history that changed a nation Saturday March 2nd between 2:00 and 4:00 in front of the Mill Woods Public Library. The event will feature illustrated panels retelling the events of the explosion, buried infrastructure interactive demos, emergency responders and more. Expect a family friendly event with something for everyone.
The goal of the commemoration is to remember this unique local history while educating residents of the importance of Clicking Before You Dig and the consequences of buried infrastructure strikes. Consequences that cost Albertans $960,000 daily and endanger lives.
Sponsors of the event in addition to The Alberta Common Ground Alliance (ABCGA) include Alberta One Call and Edmonton Are Pipeline & Utility Operators’ Committee (EAPUOC). Additional support has been provided by the Mill Woods Presidents’ Council (MWPC), the Mill Woods Public Library and the City of Edmonton.
About the Mill Woods Presidents’ Council: Since 1983 the Mill Woods Presidents’ Council has served as southeast Edmonton’s area council, striving to realize a safe and supportive community to live, work and play.
Our mission is to identify opportunities for community improvement through a recurring forum that brings together leaders, stakeholders and elected officials; then champion solutions through partnerships and the collective effort of the community leagues of southeast Edmonton.
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