PROPPER Phases of Safe Digging – Performing Locates is Critical to a Safe Dig

A digger’s due diligence goes well beyond that of making a notification (one-call) request and relying on a locator technician to get everything right.

Have you ever received 100 percent on an exam? Some of you may say “yes”. But, have you received 100 percent on every test you’ve ever taken? Probably not. However, this is exactly what we are asking of Locators — to be 100 percent correct 100 percent of the time.

Locators do not have x-ray vision to see what’s buried below the surface.

X-Ray vision

Instead, they mark the approximate alignment of “signals” rather than the actual location of buried infrastructure. Consequently, we need other mechanisms to validate the accuracy of locates and ensure a successful dig.

Diggers must ensure that the locator understands the scope of work and verify that all facilities are adequately marked before breaking the ground.

The Perform Locates phase should include:

  • managing locate requests,
  • discussing the scope of work with the locator,
  • performing a visual inspection with the locator,
  • ensuring locates are performed safely,
  • ensuring all facilities are located and sufficiently marked,
  • comparing locate documentation with information sources,
  • photographing the locates,
  • utilizing an independent locator to verify the locates, if necessary

Considering the possible consequences, such as damage to infrastructure and the environment, or harm to workers or the public, using the PROPPER (Plan, Review, Organize, Perform, Pre-excavate, Excavate, Restore) approach helps to ensure the safety of workers and to prevent damage to facilities.

Performing locates is the fourth phase of PROPPER safe digging. It’s critical to a safe dig!

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