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 Can this really happen? Sure, it can. Will it ever happen? Sure, it will. When? When the first company steps out and leads the way.
 Look! Here’s the long and short of it. We hire contractors to do what we can’t do in-house. We tell them what we want, and they agree to do it for us for a specific price. We sign a contract to get the job done within a certain timeline. We don’t really care how they do it. We just want it done. How they do it is up to them... it is not our job to tell them how to do their job.
“Really?” thinks I to myself.
Perhaps you think that this is a one- in-a-million mindset. What would
you say if I told you that I’ve heard
that sentiment many times across
the entire country? When you sit in meetings discussing damage prevention or enforcement for violating a state’s dig law, whether you are talking to impacted stakeholders or state or federal regulators, the conversation is rather predictable. It’s about calling 811 before you dig, or it’s dig carefully or maybe we’ll talk about goals. At some
point the question is raised, “What are we going to do about these unnecessary damages?” Someone says, “We need
to hire more locators.” Others point out, “We need to restrict the number of excavators, so we’ll create a permitting system that protects our city, that will solve the problem.”
It may solve your problem, but it doesn’t solve the problem. And actually, it can create more problems than it solves, and that can be proven fairly easy but that’s for another article.
Back to the first paragraph for a moment... what if it was the utility owner’s job to tell their contractor how to do their job? Oh, I don’t mean how to do their job technically. The contractor would not have been in the running for the job if they couldn’t do the job technically. But what about the expectations of the utility on the contractor’s (whether excavator or locator) impact on the utility’s brand?
I’m talking about the brand of that utility’s customer service, their respect for fellow utility owners or their respect for the county’s and/or city’s infrastructure.
When damage prevention is defined by more than “Did you make the call”, “Was it located accurately and on time” and “Did you expose the line”, real progress can be made and measured. If this is really all about changing behaviors, it’s not just the behavior of the excavators and locators, it is also about who holds the check and what expectations they have when it comes to the behaviors of the companies they hire to “get the job done.”
Can this really happen? Sure, it can. Will it ever happen? Sure, it will. When? When the first company steps out and leads the way.
If 50 in 5 is achievable, it is only achievable when we change our behaviors. All of us!
2023, Issue 4 Alabama 811 • 11

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