Fencepost - July/August 2016 - (Page 29)
Call Before You Dig
BY SCOTT LANDES
wo years ago in Cypress, Texas, a fence contractor inserting posts for
a home under construction accidentally hit a main gas line. A fire
started in the neighborhood, resulting in three nearby homes set
ablaze. Two of the three were severely damaged while the primary was
completely destroyed. The contractor suffered several burns and it took
nearly four hours to extinguish the fire that could be seen from miles away. A
small mistake, such as forgetting to call 811, can lead to a far larger disaster.
In 2015, over 50 million holes were placed
in the ground through the installation of fencing systems. Despite the overwhelming facts
of potential damages that may occur, there
are still many that are not as well-informed
on the proper procedures to safely protect
your customers, your company and yourself.
"The American Fence Association (AFA)
has a large responsibility to our industry
and other industry partners, like Common
Ground Alliance, to ensure proper excavation is done safely and effectively. In doing
so, this protects association members,
consumers and related industry partners.
Educating members is a high priority for the
AFA and building a stronger relationship
with the CGA is one manner in which we are
very excited and proud to do so," says Tony
Thornton, executive director of the AFA.
According to AFA's Safety and Health
Program, installers should contact the
appropriate representatives to determine
if and/or where hazardous items are buried under the digging site before digging.
Be certain the local One Call Center, and
utilities who are not members of the One Call
Center, have been called to locate any electric,
gas, telephone/fiber, water and any other utilities. Record all dates and job ticket numbers
given and be sure the job operator has this
information. When in doubt, do not dig!
Through a recent survey, promoted by
both the CGA and AFA, over 100 AFA
members were polled on their current digging habits and it was reported that almost
the entirety of respondents were well aware
installing or removing a fence requires all
utilities be located. However, despite this
www.americanfenceassociation.com | 29 | July/August 2016
great majority, only 75 percent actually made
the call to 811 on a consistent basis.
Given the very nature of fence installation
systems, the fence posts tend to surround
property lines, right-of-ways or streets - all
places where utility lines are typically buried.
Although it may seem like inserting posts
into the ground is not considered your typical
"digging," a standard post plunges more than
24'' into the ground. Calling 811 before any
activity is the cheapest insurance you can buy.
Without knowing what is below the area you
are placing posts, a significant amount of risk
is added to your project and to your company.
State laws require, whether installing
or removing a fencing system, that 811 is
called. However, close to 40 percent of AFA
members surveyed reported not feeling a
need to call 811 when removing the posts.
If someone is not aware of the location of
nearby utilities, the removal process can
damage lines just as much as the installation. Whether placing or removing, handdigging or employing tools, it is never safe
to dig unless you know what's below.
One of the primary reasons given for why
20 percent of AFA members do not place a
call to 811 includes increased time added
to production. However, only two business
days of advanced notice is required, in most
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fencepost - July/August 2016
Executive Director's Message
Board of Directors | Board of Governors
Security Gate Access Controls | Navigating the Numerous Options
On the Fence
Protect Your Customers and Yourself | Call Before You Dig
UL 325 | Understanding the New Changes
AFA and NOMMA to C0-Locate FENCETECH and METALfab
North to Alaska | Taking the Fence Installation School on the Road
Vinyl Manufacturers Association
Members on the Move
Index to Advertisers
Fencepost - July/August 2016