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Chapter 4

4.6 Safety

Practice Statement:

Locates are performed safely.

Practice Description:

It is the responsibility of the owner/operator and locator to establish when and how the underground facility will be identified. All hazards associated with performing a locate are identified. Appropriate measures conforming to federal, state/ provincial, local, and industry standards are established. Employees are made aware of these hazards and are properly trained in worker safety standards.

A.  Pre-Work Safety Considerations 

1.  Site Background Data. Site information is gathered to determine hazards, exposures, and/or other potential safety problems that might be encountered in connection with on-site locate work. This information may be gathered from the facility records and from visual inspection.

2.  Site Familiarization. Site characteristics that could affect locate work are analyzed. Areas to be considered include the following:

a. Obstructions. The site is analyzed to determine if physical obstructions are present on the property that would make locate work unsafe. Means for working around such obstructions are defined.

 b. Traffic. Vehicular arteries (e.g., highways, roadways, railways, etc.) at the work site are identified to determine whether such traffic would pose any safety hazard to locating the site.

c. Physical Site Conditions. Soil conditions and other factors (e.g., trenches, pits, bores, standing water, etc.) that could affect the safety of the job site are identified. Methods are developed to identify and safely work around these hazards.

 3.  External Resources. Information is gathered about safety-related resources that might be required in the event of an accident or other problem (such as an employee illness). Information needed includes location and contact information for the nearest hospital, fire department, police department, and any other public emergency response organization. In addition, access routes and travel plans to emergency response facilities are defined.

4.  Work Plan. A work plan in which procedures, employee roles, equipment requirements, time requirements, and other factors are considered is developed to define the most efficient means for safely accomplishing required locate work. This work plan considers all of the safety related information developed in connection with paragraphs 4–6.A.2 and 4–6.A.3.

5.  Job Briefing. Information developed as discussed in paragraphs 4–6.A.1 through 4–6.A.4 is used to conduct a job briefing prior to commencement of on-site locate work. The job briefing focuses on safety aspects of the required work. 

B.  Locate Work Safety Considerations

1.  Personnel Protection. Watchman/lookout capabilities are provided to ensure the safety of personnel in cases where locate work requires that working individuals disrupt traffic flow or otherwise occupy hazardous positions. All working individuals wear proper safety attire. Such attire provides for adequate visibility of the worker and personal protection against hazards.

2.  Equipment. All equipment used in connection with locate work is suitable for the intended uses. Items such as ladders, electrical test devices, and other instruments and items are inspected from a safety perspective prior to use. Safety features such as locking devices, grounding, insulation, etc., are thoroughly inspected.

3.  Exposures. In cases where locate work requires personnel to enter into spaces with potentially unsafe conditions, appropriate testing is accomplished prior to entry. During times when such spaces are occupied, adequate monitoring and/or ventilation devices are present and properly operating during occupancy.

4.  Work Activities. All locate work activities are conducted with safety given first priority. All employees are thoroughly trained and briefed regarding safety measures such as minimizing exposures to potentially hazardous conditions, avoiding unnecessary risks, and giving priority to personal safety.

C.  Post-Work Safety Considerations

1.  Termination of Work Activities. After locate work is completed, the site is restored and left in such a condition that no safety hazards associated with the locate work activities remain. All personnel and equipment used in connection with the work are accounted for, and no unsafe conditions remain at the site. Any safety related equipment used in connection with the work is returned/restored to pre-work status.

2.  Debriefing. After completion of locate work, a debriefing safety review of work activities is conducted. The review looks at the safety aspects of all applicable work practices to determine if unnecessary exposures may have occurred and where improvements could be made.

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