Utility location is a field of work that’s fraught with occupational hazards. Working for long hours with heavy equipment presents some challenges. But, that’s not all. Sometimes crews are required to work in a hazardous or toxic environment or work from towering heights or tunneling depths.

A simple due diligence survey of any site will reveal a dizzying number of dangers your crew can face in a construction site. However, for the benefit of practicality, let’s have a look at the top 10 locator safety hazards.

Images of Utility Locator Safety Hazards
These are the biggest on-the-job safety hazards for utility locators.


1. Poor Planning

Schedules, budgets, and other factors put constraints on projects. So, contractors are always finding innovative ways to cut corners. This may please the client, but at times, it’s hard to account for any unexpected incidences.

The best measure is to plan effectively and only proceed after contingencies have been devices for worst-case scenarios.

2. Collapsed Tunnels and Cave-Ins

According to OSHA cave-ins during trenching and excavation procedures claim the lives of at least two workers every month. It’s a grim statistic but can be mitigated with the help of some due diligence and proper engineering.

Such experts can test the soil composition then design and implement systems with adequate shielding, embankments, and support features that prevent cave-ins.

3. Toxic Gases

Current safety laws require contractors to test the atmosphere for toxins in digs that go beyond 4 feet. This is essential since oxygen levels deplete as you go deeper into the ground. Toxic gases such as methane and carbon monoxide may also be those depths. So, it makes sense to have a respirator or other breathing apparatus.

4. Falls & Accidents

Workers are prone to slips that can cause them to fall into dangerous depths. Secured materials, loads, and equipment are likely to suffer the same fate. Accounting for all human errors is impossible. At least you can reduce such incidences by designing clear walkways and erecting barriers. Slippery surfaces can be remedied with grit or stones.

5. Hitting Underground Lines or Utilities

Most local maps feature underground infrastructure. However, your plan may be outdated, and most maps fail to indicate exact depths. This leaves your crew in danger of being electrocuted by live power lines or damaging critical infrastructure such as fiber optic cabling.

Fortunately, you can always hire an underground locator service to provide you with updated maps of underground utilities.

6. Dangerous Equipment

Poor handling of equipment can cause severe injuries in on job sites. Therefore, it pays to hire only the most experienced servicemen to handle heavy machinery and specialized tools. Your gear should also be stored correctly and regularly serviced to ensure it isn’t prone to hazards.

7. Insufficient Supervision

A worksite supervisor should be a stickler for safety rules and proper operational procedures. Any compromises on that front leave the rest of your crew in danger. So, always insist on accountability, good record-keeping, and strong communication skills among your supervisors.

8. Lack of Safety Signage & Warnings

Proper signage can help you communicate any hazards to your crew and the public. A shortage of signs could lead to people falling into deep excavations, road accidents, and other avoidable accidents.

9. High Noise Levels

Working on job sites involves exposure to various noisy power tools. This is an expected occupational hazard that comes with the territory. However, excessive noise over long periods can lead to hearing problems, dizziness, deafness, and even PTSD. So, it’s essential to conduct a noise risk assessment and provide your crew with PPE where appropriate.

10. Airborne Fibers and Other Debris

Excavations produce a lot of dust. Most of the time, such environments contain fine fibers and other debris that are invisible to the naked eye. Especially when exposure is intense or occurs regularly over long periods of time, such materials can block respiratory pathways and may lead to medical conditions such as asthma. Therefore, you merely providing PPE is not enough; you need to insist that your utility locating crew uses it correctly.

Related article: Crucial Safe Digging Tips.

SoftDig: Elevate Your Safety Standards to Eliminate Safety Hazards.

Effective planning for exaction jobs only stops when you have a contingency for every possible hazard. This list will get you started. At SoftDig, we use the latest in GPR and ground scanning technologies to ensure our clients remain safe and avoid damaging critical infrastructure.

Contact us today to learn more about how our services can eliminate some of these safety hazards.


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