Industry Study Evaluates Underground Facility Locating Process

The American Pipeline Contractors Association (APCA) announced that a comprehensive study of the facility locating process related to excavation construction projects is now available.

This comprehensive study investigates all aspects of the facility locating process and offers underground facility operators recommendations for them to meet their responsibilities in accurately locating and marking their facilities prior to excavation as required by state damage prevention law.

“All too often, the discussions of damage prevention and how it relates to pipeline safety focus on the importance of calling 811 prior to excavating,” said APCA President Taylor Dacus of Troy Construction and. “We need to better consider the challenges facing the facility locating process and the underlying reasons behind the increasing number of locate requests that are responded to entirely too late or are unanswered altogether.”

The study, “811 Emergency,” takes an in-depth look at a range of issues surrounding facility locating, provides an in-depth examination of 811 operations in every state and Washington, D.C., and demonstrates that the costs and the increased risk to the job site and public safety could be significantly reduced if states adopted more effective practices and procedures already in use in different regions of the country. The study recommends that state programs provide no exemptions in state law for any stakeholder in the damage prevention process, mandatory damage reporting, and balanced enforcement, which may require a restructuring of the state’s penalty structure and the development of a third-party damage prevention board.

Along with a wide range of stakeholders, APCA provided the study to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives, the agencies that oversee the federal pipeline safety program at the federal and state levels. APCA hopes these agencies will consider the study's findings when regulations regarding pipeline safety are considered.

“Congress just passed comprehensive infrastructure legislation, meaning a lot of excavation work on the horizon,” Dacus said. “The importance of preventing damages to underground facilities cannot be overstated, and accurate locating and marking them will continue to be of the utmost importance. The Emergency 811 study makes a compelling case for many states to improve their 811 programs and backs this up with sound data.”


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