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How To Reduce Damage To Buried Utility Services?

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By Author: Peter Ashcroft
Total Articles: 41
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Digging holes in the ground is a rudimentary part of construction, as well as, of the maintenance and installation of underground utilities. Unfortunately, every time the ground is excavated or broken there is the risk of buried utility services getting damaged? Damage can be dangerous and expensive, and can also severely affect the reputation of the company. Being able to safely excavate is an elementary competence of contractors, utility companies and the construction industry. Fortunately, there is a wide range of techniques that can be implemented to cost-effectively reduce these risks.

In the United Kingdom, 60,000 strikes are seen each year. The mega-trend of urbanisation across the country means that there will be more pipes and cables in the ground, and therefore, more excavation. Damage to buried utilities is a major problem with the potential to become very serious unless the right measures are put in place.

Consequences of damaging buried assets

Damaging buried utilities can be extremely dangerous. Striking of underground gas pipelines or electricity cables can cause grave injuries or even death ...
... to workers, as well as, bystanders. Also, damage can be expensive as the utilities will have to be repaired or replaced, the reputation of the company will be weakened, productivity will decrease, projects will be delayed and the company might have to pay compensation.

There are largely four reasons why damage to underground utility service takes place.

 Detection tools are not used before starting excavation

 The best tools are not used or the workers lack the knowledge of how to correctly use them

 Safe working practices are not adequate

 On-site behaviour of the workers do not reflect the right working practices

Luckily, there are simple solutions to deal with the aforementioned problems. Take a look below.

Make use of underground utility detection tools

This is the most important and simplest step. Do not excavate the area before it has been scanned and marked by expert professionals using detection tools. Make use of tools with maps, but do not depend on maps alone.

There are mainly two approaches to find underground utility services with electromagnetic locators - precision locate and avoidance. CAT & Genny tools are used for the avoidance approach as these equipment are known to accurately detect and locate the whereabouts of the buried services. There are also other types of locator devices that professionals use to conduct a thorough survey of the area. To know about these devices and learn how to use them correctly, you must undertake CATSCAN training.

Implement safe working practices

Contractors, construction or utility companies must implement safe and reliable working practices to avoid injuries and additional expenses. In the UK, HSG47 is one such guidance that lays down certain rules and regulations to be followed during an excavation. This guidance clearly mentions the procedures for locating buried services, planning excavations and steps to follow for safe excavations. Also, it is important to train the workers so that they are aware of safe excavation procedures. With trained workers on-site, the chances of accidents are greatly reduced.

Damaging buried cables and pipelines is a serious problem and it has been costing lives and money. If simple steps can be taken, cable strikes can be wholly avoided. Ensure that the excavation site is surveyed by a professional and certified surveyor before you start digging. Also, keep in mind the aforementioned safety procedures.

So, look for a professional training company delivering curated CATSCAN training programmes. Being a part of such a programme will empower you with the knowledge, skills and expertise needed to conduct a safe excavation. You will learn about the damages caused by cable strikes, the various detection and location tools available in the market, and the correct use of those tools. You will also learn about the limitations of those equipment. Furthermore, you will know about the procedures laid out in the HSG47 and be able to avoid injuries, unnecessary project delays and financial loss.

Sygma Solutions Ltd. provides CATSCAN training course curated by industry-leading experts. Their comprehensive course aims to equip contractors and professionals with the skills and knowledge needed to detect underground utility services and prevent cable strikes.

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