Rich Maxwell recently asked contractors, "What are two things you hope your HDD crews do on every bore to prevent hitting other utilities in the ground?"

You cannot overemphasize the importance of making sure that the utility line locations are verified. Courtesy of Straightline Manufacturing Inc.
In preparation for a presentation I gave in Dallas at the Damage Prevention Conference, I e-mailed 75 HDD contractors, asking them simply, "What are two things you hope your HDD crews do on every bore to prevent hitting other utilities in the ground?" I was amazed at the good response. I thought the "best practices" were very good and worth sharing not only at the conference, but also with you, my readers.

1) Use a utility call sheet, which includes a companies-notified check off, contact information and recall date.

2) (In Oregon, it is the law.) Pothole or vac excavate everything before crossing a utility or communications line.

3) Similarly, hand dig trail trenches perpendicular to drill line.

4) Collect as much information in the way of drawings from all utility companies.

5) Verify and re-verify every utility including water and sewer lines. It's worth the extra time and expense.

6) Visually confirm all conflicting utilities prior to a stake or rod being allowed in the ground.

7) Walk the site looking for unmarked or mis-marked lines - surface signs of utilities (manholes, line drops or service connection).

8) Have a competent locator keeping an accurate bore log.

9) Have the locator maintain communications with the drill operator at all times.

10) Prepare a bore plan (including pit dimensions) and stick to it.

11) Have a tailgate meeting with all personnel (backhoe operators, drill crew, inspector, hand-dig crew)* to review bore plan and depth and location of all utilities in the area. Set the stage for a safe bore. *Try as often as possible to have the locate contractor meet with crew. It saves ghost hunts.

12) Assign one of your employees to visually monitor the cutting head and the backreamer's intersect with existing utilities.

13) Pre-dig the exit pit to ensure safe climb.

Well, it's a new year. Last year was a tough one, at least economically speaking. Lots of good things happened. I became a grandpa for the first time. Anyway, may God bless you and yours as I know He will in 2002.