A Maryland engineering firm recently spared a state DOT the agony of utility disruption by double-checking the agency’s work. Suspecting that a few lines had been mismarked, Apex Companies LLC crews excavating a trench hand dug around the mark outs and then where they thought the lines actually were.

They were right.

Since you can’t expect all contractors to be so diligent, consider requiring a second mark-out – by hand or gentle digging if necessary – be done before work commences.

These and other tips are available at the Common Ground Alliance (CGA). Formed in 2000, CGA’s mission is to ensure public safety, environmental protection, and service integrity by promoting effective damage prevention practices. The nearly 2,000 people and companies that belong represent excavators, locators, road builders, electric, telecommunications, oil, gas distribution and transmission, railroad, One Call, public works, equipment manufacturing, regulators, insurance, emergency services, and engineering/design.

Driven by the principle that “damage prevention is a shared responsibility,” CGA has been gathering and compiling information via the Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) since 2003 to learn:

  • How many damages occur each year?
  • What are the primary causes of damages and near misses?
  • Are these events increasing or decreasing – and why?
  • Are some educational campaigns more effective than others?

Submitting this information is voluntary, but it’s also free. Which makes the annual reports a great resource for working most effectively with other utilities to protect yours.

CGA also launched the "Call Before You Dig" 811 campaign in 2007 to get the message across to home and other property owners.

Now the association’s launched VAULT, an online database of equipment manufacturers searchable by category, CGA Best Practice, related root causes, and/or stakeholder group. You can visit www.cga-vault.com to find practical information about various technologies -- locating and detection, encroachment monitoring, excavation, etc. – such as equipment specifications and capabilities, company representative, and contact information.

Learn more about how public works can benefit from CGA and DIRT by watching the American Public Works Association’s “Do you know DIRT?” webinar ($175 for non-members).