SaskEnergy, SaskPower and SaskTel are expanding efforts in 2014 to reduce the number of incidents where damage occurs to buried power, natural gas and telecommunications lines. The three Crown utilities have seen, on average, a rising trend of infrastructure damage over the past five years and want to reduce accidental contact with buried lines.
While requesting a line locate is a vital part of the safe digging process, it’s also important the Crown utilities and their line locate contractor provide timely information to anyone planning an excavation project.
Last year, SaskEnergy had 255 incidents where its buried lines were contacted, while SaskPower had 197 incidents, and SaskTel 585 incidents. All Crowns have seen an increase in buried line hits over the past five years. To reduce this level of damage, the Crowns are planning the following activities in 2014, in addition to damage prevention programs already in place:
• a targeted and enhanced Sask 1st Call public awareness campaign and development of a Sask 1st Call Mobile App;
• a pilot project involving “safety patrols” to monitor construction activities in new Regina and Saskatoon subdivisions where increasing damage is occurring to buried infrastructure; and
• renewal of the contract for Magna Electric Corporation to perform joint line locating for all three Crown utilities. A North American industry leading practice has shown a safety improvement when one qualified technician locates multiple buried lines, rather than several companies performing this service individually.
SaskEnergy’s incident reports show a rising trend of pipelines punctured in new urban neighbourhoods during activities such as landscaping, deck and fence installation and driveway paving.
All three Crowns are members of the Saskatchewan Common Ground Alliance (SCGA), an organization dedicated to ensuring worker and public safety, by promoting effective damage prevention practices in connection with underground infrastructure activities. The SCGA strongly encourages the public and third-party contractors to contact Sask 1st Call for free line locate services prior to construction and have a safe dig plan in place once work begins.