Page 18 - Alabama 811 Magazine
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By Staff Writer 811 Magazines
While it is unrealistic to expect every damage to be prevented, it can be said that virtually all damages represent a breakdown in the system somewhere. Maybe it was carelessness. Maybe it was unintentional. Maybe it was no one’s fault. Regardless, it is important to study and learn from each incident.
While most locating companies now provide the standard pre and post photos of a locate, they also provide the damage investigation in order to satisfy their contract and to establish liability.
However, many damages have multiple failures. For example, if a line is mismarked, it may be partially due to inadequate facility prints and if the excavator is digging within the safety zone or on faded marks, there could clearly be more than one problem which needs to be addressed regardless of the liability issue.
In cases of at-fault damages, we must view the damage as a learning experience. Why did it occur? What could have been done to prevent it? Is this a case where the locator knew better but took shortcuts? Did the locator not understand a technique or principle which could have solved the problem? Did the demands to locate all
the tickets on his overloaded screen cause him to rush and take a chance? Is this an isolated situation or one with broader implications?
In short, the goal of the damage investigation is to make sure the locator involved, his team members and the entire organization learns from each damage when appropriate.
However, it should not just be the locator on the line each time, but the investigation should identify the role of the excavator’s behavior, the utility company’s practices and the locating company’s expectations.
Forward-thinking folks have come to understand that the changes necessary to achieve higher standards are not the result of iron clad contracts but rather commitment to excellence.
What are you willing to do to get a handle on damages?
 16 • Alabama 811
2023, Issue 2

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