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SAFE DIGGING


The Benefits of Safe Digging


Digging, trenching, boring, augering, and blasting are all inherently dangerous to life and property. Even under ideal conditions with a minimum of underground utilities or other obstructions, the risk of potential damage is high. Unintentional damage to underground facilities during excavation is a significant cause of disruption in telecommunications, water supply, electric power and other vital public services, such as hospitals and air traffic control operations, and is a leading cause of natural gas and hazardous liquid pipeline accidents. Coordination, communication and cooperation between excavators, contractors, homeowners, and utility owners can reduce the risk of damage to utility facilities.

When a contractor, excavator or homeowner plans their work, works their plan and calls for underground utility locates in a timely manner, there are many benefits for all to realize:

  • Reduce the chance of personal injury to employees and citizens.
  • Maintain uninterrupted utility service to the citizens of Alabama.
  • Reduce insurance premium payments.
  • Reduce Worker's Compensation payments.
  • Reduce non-productive down time.
  • Optimize job-scheduling activities.
  • Reduce overtime payments.
  • Reduce damages to expensive excavating equipment.
  • Reduce or eliminate the payment of property damage claims.
  • Tolerance Zone


The Alabama Underground Damage Prevention Act 94-487 requires that the excavator observe a TOLERANCE ZONE .


BEFORE YOU CAN USE MECHANIZED DIGGING EQUIPMENT IN THE TOLERANCE ZONE, YOU MUST FIRST VERIFY THE PRESENCE AND LOCATION OF THE BURIED FACILITY.


When excavating in the tolerance zone all necessary precautions should be taken to avoid damage. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Digging by hand
  • Potholing and soft digging
  • Vacuum excavation methods

Figure 1 Figure 2        


Figure 1
For markings that indicate width, the tolerance zone is the width of the facility plus 18" on either side.

Figure 2
For markings that do not indicate width, the tolerance zone is 18" of either side of the markings.
For example: If you know you are going to be excavating at a certain depth, use hand tools to expose a window in the earth down to that depth and then open the window 18" on each side of the marked facility. When exposing a facility, adequate support must be provided for the protection of the facility including backfilling once you have finished.

Illustration of Potholing



Illustration of Vacuum

 
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