October 26, 2020
By: Jim Flint, Eastcom Upstate NY area manager
In the nearly 20 years I have been in the underground utility business I have seen and heard some interesting and frustrating things. When I was in underground damage prevention education with my states 811 system, I was constantly irritated by the reluctance of excavators to do two simple things. One, make the damn call. I was there when the 811 number came to fruition through years of hard work by stakeholders around the country in 2007. It was a glorious time cause now we had a rallying cry that everyone could get behind. But even today we are still seeing 23% of hits happen out of sheer laziness or ignorance. It’s free, and anyone worth a salt in the business knows it takes a few days so a little planning goes a long way. As the years went by, I would see the primary root cause of damages change from no call to the second irritating cause, unsafe digging practices around the “tolerance zone”. Every state differs a little bit on this but generally when you get close to the markings you got to expose the line by hand or use something non-intrusive like air or water coupled with a vacuum. Over 30% now happen because of this. Again, this is not diligent and the cost is way too high. There are so many options now to minimize damages, such as the CAT4 Cable avoidance tool, and the Air Spade. If you’re reading this and are in the excavation community, I hope you think twice before cutting a corner. We at Eastcom are advocates for damage prevention so if you ever need more info on who to talk to or equipment to help, just reach out to us, firstname.lastname@example.org.