Published: Mar 03, 2022

Why Some Companies Are Destined to Have a Line Strike

We all like to cut costs, and that's fair… until people start cutting corners

Robb Sernecky, icon
Robb SerneckyGround Disturbance Operations Manager

Daylighting or Hand Excavation

Ground disturbance best practice is to expose a pipeline fully, so you can see the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock positions, including 1.5 metres to each side of the pipeline. This enables a crew to clearly see the line, size, and orientation to make sure there aren't any more facilities than expected.

An all-to-common method of corner-cutting is to expose the top of the pipe, say, "Great. There it is!" and start excavating.

Yes, daylighting can run up your costs, but taking on excess risk by not completely exposing pipelines invites a strike.

Mechanical Excavating

No mechanical excavation should be completed within 1.5 meters of a pipeline or a bare minimum of 60 cm per the Alberta Pipeline Act.

One way to cut corners is to excavate closer to the line, saving on hydrovac costs. This increases the risk of a strike. Even if the coating of a pipeline is damaged, the cost of repair can be painful.

Line Locating

There is a tendency to treat line locating as a perfect science. Unfortunately, it's not.

Lines are not always where they're marked, or at the depth they're expected.

Unregistered or abandoned lines can be missed altogether.

A qualified line locator will prove lines as to ownership, line, and licence number to ensure all pipelines are identified and make sure your crossing lists are in the proper order. They will write company names, size and pipeline product, and utilize multiple colours to tip lines, so everyone has a clear and concise understanding of what's underground and where.

A line locator who has the support of their management team will always note conflicting or vague signals. A warning to the ground disturbers about the situation can help them be more vigilant.

Training

One of the easiest ways to cut corners is to skimp on training. It's easy to do because it's hard to see, and no one is watching.

Are your line locators fully trained and certified, or do they have a certificate representing one day of training? Poorly trained line locators might be cheaper, but that would be cutting a corner… and playing with fate.

The best way to prevent line strikes is to work with a Ground Disturbance company that knows the rules, trains and certifies its line locators, and doesn't cut corners.

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