Page 15 - Alabama 811 Magazine 2021 Issue 4
P. 15

Late Locates
against an unknown in that you don’t know what your workload will look like day to day, and unlike a lot of industries you have a legal obligation to get the work you receive completed in a set amount of time with no wiggle room. Most companies will look at past ticket volume trends as well as volume increases year over year to make their best guess on how many technicians they may need. What they can’t account for is large ticket volume spikes due
to several projects starting at the same time, multiple miles long fiber projects going on at the same time, or complete system upgrades by utilities and road projects that last months.
So this brings us to, “What can be done to help the situation?” Let’s first look at these projects and what contractors and or utilities can do to help ensure they get their locates completed on time. The first step is getting the locators involved early on in your project. This means before any excavation is planned and you are looking at doing a project, reach out to the contract locators and let them know that you have a large project coming up. The sooner the better. Even if it is not enough time for them to hire additional folks, they will be able to start planning on how to get resources to your project. Working with the locators throughout the project can ensure you always have fresh marks
on the ground as you complete your digging.
Think about what you are calling in
for your project. Once a locate request is processed, locators have a legal obligation to mark what is on that ticket, whether it’s one ticket requesting 200 feet or 20 tickets each requesting 2,000 feet on both sides of the road. They all must be marked within 72 business hours in Tennessee. So, look at your locate requests and think about whether or not you have more area on your ticket than is needed, or maybe more area requested than you will be able to complete in 15 calendar days.
The last thing to think about in reference to locate requests is the update process. When you are working a large project, do you
update your entire project until it
is complete? A lot of times, as a project progresses, the contractor
will continue to update sections
of the project that are already complete. Although you are not
doing any work in that area, if it
is being updated, the locators are required to remark these tickets, tying up resources that could be working on locating areas that are currently being worked. Be sure you are utilizing these resources to the best of your ability
by being smart about how you call in tickets.
Lastly, as has been mentioned time and again, communicate. Communication
is essential to having a good working relationship between the contractors and the locators and ensuring your jobs are getting marked in a timely manner. Sometimes it’s as simple as picking up the phone and talking to the locator
in your area and working together to establish a locating schedule that will keep your project moving forward with minimal delays. This communication must be two ways, meaning as a locator, if you know you aren’t going to get
to a ticket, give that contractor a call and work out a mutually agreed upon schedule. A lot of times, the frustration for a contractor comes not only from the ticket being delayed, but the fact there has been no communication as to the status of the ticket or when it may be completed for them. By giving them a call, they may have an area that they request you to get marked so they can get started and then work on an agreed upon schedule to get the rest completed or enough to keep their project moving forward. The most important thing to remember is communication can solve a lot of issues.
We all understand the pressures that the locate industry is under, but if we
work together as an industry of damage prevention professionals, I think we can make strides in preventing damage to underground facilities across the state. Everybody has a role to play,
and everybody should be working together for one common goal, reducing damages to our essential underground infrastructure.
At TN811, we are always willing to facilitate a coordination meeting to bring locators, utilities, and contractors together to discuss issues and identify solutions. If you are interested in setting something up in your area, please reach out to me or the liaison in your area and we would be happy to work with you in bringing stakeholders together for the sake of damage prevention.
As always, Tennessee 811 appreciates all the locators and your daily efforts to prevent underground utility damages throughout the state.
Publisher’s note: We’ve reprinted Jason’s excellent article written for
the Tennessee 811 Magazine with his permission. Late locates are the focus of much frustration across the country and certainly in the surrounding states. You will notice that one difference between Tennessee and Alabama is
the amount of time the locator has
in order to complete the locate. Note that Tennessee has 72 business hours
to complete the locate request. Despite the extra time, both states are looking for solutions related to late locates. It appears the solution always begins and ends with effective communication.
2021, Issue 4 Alabama 811 • 13

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