Dialing #dig On Your Cellular Phone by 6sfasQ80


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Dialing #dig On Your Cellular Phone

Limiting Damage Claims


"One-Calls" Using Railroad Location Criteria

Damage Prevention and Safe Excavation

Active Involvement in Facility Damage Prevention Activities

The Ongoing Role of Facility Damage Prevention
Dialing #dig On Your Cellular Phone

It’s safe to say that in today’s fast paced, high tech. environment, underground facility
reliability is more critical than ever. This fact, coupled with record numbers of excavation
projects nationally, makes “Call Before You Dig” and “Dig Safely” the cornerstone for
worker safety and infrastructure dependability.

With this in mind, the Southeast Underground Facility Protection Council (SEUFPC), a
regional extension of the National Telecommunications Damage Prevention Council
(NTDPC), decided in 1999 to explore ways to make it easier for anyone digging to
contact their state One-Call notification center to request a locate. Recognizing that the
excavator community is a highly mobile workforce, this team decided to pursue
solicitation of wireless providers around the country to offer a 3 digit dialing service that
would connect the caller to the appropriate state One-Call center “free of charge”. This
new feature would be known as #dig(#344).

The SEUFPC also had a goal of assuring that this new process would be a win-win for all
parties. Providing another option for excavators to utilize when needing to contact their
local One-Call center became a “win” for them by increasing the ease of calling when
needing locates. By encouraging more calls to report digging projects, the likelihood of
damage to the very cables relied upon to provide cellular service, was reduced. This is a
very important “win” for the wireless companies.

The team invited representatives from various wireless companies to attend a meeting at
which time they were given a presentation on the merits of offering the #dig feature to
their customers. The idea was received with welcomed enthusiasm and in June 2000,
AT&T Wireless, Sprint PCS and Bell South Mobility deployed the #dig feature in
various major cities around the country. The first 7 “test” cities were; Los Angeles, CA,
Miami, FL, Orlando, FL, Atlanta, GA, Charlotte, NC, Denver, CO and New York, NY.
Several national contractor associations were asked to notify their membership in these
areas and make them aware of this new service. It wasn’t long before the team was
receiving positive feedback from excavators expressing the value of this feature in
helping them schedule work and easily contact the One-Call centers for other services
when needed.

Activating this service with other wireless carriers and in all parts of the country is
ongoing. Currently, AT&T Wireless provides this feature nationally in all their service
areas. In states where AT&T Wireless has contracts with other carriers, negotiations are
progressing to provide #dig availability in these locations too. Sprint PCS is providing
this service in Atlanta, GA presently with plans to expand throughout their service area in
the near future. Cingular Wireless has #dig deployed in the Great Lakes states; Ohio,
Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. Also, SouthernLINC Inc., a division of the
southeastern-US based Southern Company has made the #dig feature available to their
customers throughout that network.

For cellular telephone customers of companies not yet providing this service, contact
your company representative and ask if they have plans to offer this feature. Damage
prevention of underground facilities impacts everyone. #dig is just another tool to be used
in the effort to reduce damages, provide improved public service and enhance homeland
security nationally.

Communication, Cooperation Are Key Factors In Limiting Damage
Anybody who is in the damage prevention loop knows that communication is everything.
The perfect-world scenario is that all excavators call before they dig, all underground
facility operators belong to their respective one-call center and mark their facilities
accurately, and both sides communicate before any work is performed to ensure that all
bases are covered. Communication and cooperation are the cornerstones of protecting the
underground infrastructure.

Of course, this isn’t a perfect world, and both excavators and facility operators are often
guilty of not communicating enough. The less the communication, the more likely a
facility hit will occur and the more likely a damage claim will result.

There are obvious costs incurred by both excavators and facility operators from facility
strikes, including damaged or destroyed equipment, loss of product, downtime, and most
importantly, physical injury or death.

Role Of Communication
While preventing damages is the ultimate goal, communication doesn’t end preventative
measures. When something does get hit, communication among all involved parties can
make life a lot easier on everybody, and reduce costs. We all hear stories of contractors
receiving unwarranted bills for lines that were mis-marked, or facility operators who
can’t even get a call back from a contractor to discuss a particular hit. All too often, these
cases end up in court without even a discussion to hash things out between the players. If
excavators and facility operators would talk to each other in the wake of a facility hit,
they might find that a damage claim is not necessary.

Take AT&T, for example. The telecom giant has a unique policy regarding claims that
provides a forum for AT&T and contract excavators to discuss damages before a claim is
even filed. John Visi, AT&T’s corporate claims district manager and active member of
the National Telecommunications Damage Prevention Council (NTDPC) believes that
communication can result in fewer claims by promoting two-way communications
between AT&T and the contractor involved.

Make no mistake, AT&T has the right to take legal action to recover damage expenses,
but Visi believes this adds unnecessary expenses. A 32-year veteran of the company, Visi
has managed AT&T’s uninsured claims process for more than 12 years and is currently
the chairman of the National Telecommunications Claims Managers Association,
(NTCMA). During his tenure in claims, his policy has been to establish liability first and
negotiate with the damaging party second.

AT&T’s claim efforts over the last 10 years have resulted in out-of-court settlements on
all but two facility damage claims. This remarkable record comes from thorough
investigation of damage incidents, determination of cause and liability of each damage,
and negotiation with the damaging party.

“AT&T takes a ‘two-way street’ approach to claims,” said Visi. “This symbolizes critical
two-way communication and cooperation between the excavator and AT&T, and this
policy promotes continued good business relations, minimized time and expenses, and
avoidance of costly legal actions.”

During negotiations, AT&T considers compliance with the respective one-call law, but
also how the contractor interacts with AT&T representatives at the damage site. In the
event of a damaged facility, the first thing AT&T looks for is the one-call ticket. When
issues of contractor liability are clear, it is important for the contractor to recognize that it
is his/her responsibility to participate in negotiations and present all relevant facts.

Of course, the flip side of this is that facility operators should follow the same rules of
engagement when the responsibility lies with them. Contractors incur costs from facility
hits too, and often do not pursue recovery of these damages because either they don’t ask
or don’t have the resources to take the other side to court if necessary. Both sides have a
duty to settle the claim, minimize additional expenses, and continue working within a
productive business environment.

AT&T has an obligation to recover monetary losses associated with damage repairs when
the fault lies with another party, as is true with any innocent party. Visi claims that
AT&T will pursue recovery of damage expenses, loss of use dollars and all other
expenses in cases where the excavator ignores all billing letters and attempts to promote
communication. “The ‘one-way street’ approach only leads to increased expense payouts
for both companies and a hostile business environment for everybody,” he said.

Interaction Without Court Costs
When a facility is damaged, AT&T responds with a letter of intent to bill. A complete
itemized bill for all temporary expenses, permanent repair costs, and claims expenses is
provided. A complete and thorough investigation begins at the time of the damage, which
includes discussions with the one-call center and review of the one-call ticket. Accuracy
of facility locations and marks is also evaluated. Discussions about what happened are
held with AT&T’s on-site employees and the involved excavator(s).

The excavator is encouraged to provide all the details from their perspective, especially if
there are contradictory opinions as to root cause of the damage. AT&T invites all details
regarding costs incurred by the contractor to be considered in their investigation.

See the common theme, here? All of this interaction takes place before there is any talk
of legal action. Communication can lead to trust, which can lead to a productive working
relationship between facility operators and the contractors who work for them. If there is
a facility hit, the likelihood of an out-of-court settlement is much higher between two
parties who communicate than between two company representatives who are unfamiliar
with each other.

There are contractors out there who have seen this communication evolve into
relationships that have increased their bottom line. These contractors discuss the details
of facility damages with their customers and document their findings regarding
responsibility for each incident. The contactors and operators discuss the costs and
responsibility of facility hits over a period of time, evaluate who owes whom for what,
and negotiate an informal settlement. Sometimes the contractor cuts the facility owner a
check, sometimes it’s the other way around. Or, sometimes it’s simply a “wash.” The
bottom line, however, is that both sides settle on good terms, and the productive working
relationship continues.

The Spirit of “Common Ground”
For those who participated in the development of the Common Ground Study of One Call
Systems and Damage Prevention Best Practices and are involved in the Common Ground
Alliance, the non-profit organization dedicated to shared responsibility in damage
prevention, this approach to damages should be well received.

Common Ground showed us initially that our worlds aren’t so far apart. Nobody wants to
see facility damages, and when all parties involved do their part, excavation damage will
inevitably be reduced. Damage prevention is about talking to one another. Excavators
must notify one call. Facility operators must belong to one call. Excavators and facility
operators should meet before an excavation. Damages must be reported. And when
facilities are damaged, the parties involved should communicate. There are bound to be
differences of opinion about root cause and responsibility in some cases, but would you
rather settle the matter over a cup of coffee or before a judge?

AT&T’s approach should be considered by other facility operators, and contractors
should try to forge better relationships with their facility customers. Facility damages will
still be unavoidable to a certain extent, but the more communication and cooperation we
have, the less that extent will be.

Mapping / NTDPC
         Location, location, location! In the world of facility locating, mapping is crucial
to the lifeblood of the industry. The realm of mapping encompasses the excavators,
facility owners, and One-Call Centers in how they manage their business on a daily basis.
From the excavator who contacts the state One-Call agency to open a “dig” ticket, the
facility owner who registers the location of the facilities to protect the integrity of their
assets, to the One-Call who deals with the ongoing task of maintaining a sound
geographic street database, mapping touches each of these entities in different aspects.

Excavator / Contractor
         With the advancement of on-line mapping databases, contractors now have the
ability to enter tickets on-line. This feature has proven to be a great benefit in supporting
the state One-Call Center’s overall operating expenses. Training contractors is necessary
to insure that ticket field requirements are fulfilled and work locations are properly
identified. Incorrect use of these systems could ultimately result in improper notification.
Electronic mapping is no exception requiring a thorough understanding of how
information is interpreted.
         Databases such as GDT have a positional accuracy of 5 to 7 meters in enhanced
areas. Latitude/Longitude coordinates also can assist some state agencies to ensure the
correct dig location is being marked.
         In addition, contractors can reap the rewards of mapping’s technological
advancements by obtaining a Global Positioning Systems (GPS) unit and provide GPS
coordinates to the One-Call to pinpoint excavation sites to within acceptable levels of

Facility Registration

         Over the years, utility companies have worked with the One-Call on improving
the methodology used to register their facilities. Facility owners such as the long haul
pipelines and communications companies are seeking the ability to redefine their
registration to ultimately reduce the amount of unwanted tickets.
         The notification process has evolved immensely throughout the years. Many One-
Call’s were first set up to notify by a “large area” such as a place within a county. Until
recently, the common practice was to register facility data in a grid format such as the
Public Land Survey System (PLSS.) The problem with notifying by a grid coverage is
that it is limited to a specified area, and therefore, difficult to reduce the corridor of
notification. More advanced methods known as polygonal support allows facility owners
to create a polygonal coverage of their facility data with a desired buffer. The polygonal
coverage serves as an overlay to the One-Call Center’s base street layer and appears to be
the preference and direction in which the industry is headed.


         One-Call Centers throughout the nation are working towards standardizing how
facility data is accepted. The industry is recognizing the need for a central repository for
street data. Facility owners will have the ability to utilize the One-Call’s geographic street
database on-line to create facility polygons or to view their facility coverage file
submitted to the One-Call. In addition, the process will prove to be invaluable by
allowing all facility owners to view the identical map used by the One-Call to process
locate requests.
        Advancements in mapping systems have allowed some One-Call Centers to
incorporate latitude and longitude coordinates into their applications. Incorporating this
feature will benefit excavators when determining the excavation site, especially in rural
areas. Other data features such as lakes, schools, businesses, landmarks, etc., are
incorporated into digital maps to assist in finding the location of the excavation site.
Some One-Call Centers are currently incorporating aerial photography as an active layer.
Street centerline data and mapping themes can then be rectified to match the ortho

         Incorporating an effective mapping application will benefit the excavators and
facility owners by saving time and money. However, every project is associated with a
cost, and One-Call Centers are faced with ongoing challenges pertaining to funding and
maintenance. The ultimate goal for the One-Call is to work with facility owners,
government agencies, board of directors, etc., to develop a mapping system which will
improve the notification process, protect the underground infrastructure, and assist in the
safety of the excavating community.

       National Telecommunications Screening Center Forum

"One-Calls" Using Railroad Location Criteria
The recent lowering of a railroad line, requiring excavation below sea level, to improve
the movement of trains to and from the ports in the Los Angeles area, while also
improving the automobile and pedestrian flows, is a noteworthy success story. The
Alameda Corridor is a showcase example of how private industry, including railroads and
utilities, government agencies and the public can find numerous benefits and win-win
solutions when all are willing to "partner." This project became a little told story of how
hundreds of buried utility facilities that were affected in one way or another were
protected through effective coordination of location information and, in turn, protection
of these facilities.

"Call Before You Dig" centers are an integral part of the whole process. The updating of
records of road-rail crossings that once were at grade and are now grade-separated is one
example of the challenges that "one-call" centers and right-of-way owners are faced with
daily. The effort to correctly identify a location that requires verification of underground
facilities is one that demands accurate location data, paired with accurate facility
information. This is a requirement, not only when things change significantly, as they
did with the design and construction of the Alameda Corridor, but for any buried facility
that requires protection. Some might refer to the location of a facility by use of a grid, or
others with an address -- perhaps a latitude/longitude value, or a pipeline, highway or
railroad milepost.
In today's complex world the ability to share information that protects the underground
infrastructure has never been more important. The representation of a spatial location on
the earth, and its relationship to every underground facility, is the dream of every facility
owner, contractor and locator. The use of latitude and longitude, GPS receivers,
innovative locating devices and unique mapping vehicles bring tools to the underground
world that can assist in providing location data to be shared to provide mutual benefits.

It is evident that to optimize the use of these tools, users must be able to speak a common
language. The frustration of not being able to communicate even the simplest ideas and
thoughts can have dire consequences in the damage prevention world. Wrong addresses
and telephone numbers are a nuisance to most people, but inaccuracies in the damage
prevention arena can have deadly consequences. The need to accommodate any
information received is evident if we are to be "user friendly" and effective.

A frog to most people might remind them of a traumatic biology lab experience but, to a
railroader, it is a track component. A pig, to most of us, is a farm animal meant for a
good barbecue, but to the pipeline industry it is an effective inspection or locating device.
We all bring to the table terms and knowledge of our respective industries. Any inability
to share effectively, or any misunderstanding of that knowledge, can be a great hindrance.
Providing facility location information to a "one-call" center, in only one format through
only one acceptable method, is a hurdle that the NTDPC has tackled with success.

Although street addresses typically work well in urban areas, they can make facility
location in rural areas a challenge. Add the location of excavation along or near a
railroad, and you can imagine some of the problems you might encounter. Railroads,
pipelines and, to some extent, highways, typically "locate" their facilities by a milepost
value and "route designation" (e.g. an Interstate Highway number) or "subdivision".
Using a milepost value with a route identifier allows a facility owner to uniquely identify
any location on its network. Adding the latitude and longitude at that point provides a
remedy enabling the effective transmission of location data to a "one-call" center.

The NTDPC has accepted this challenge working through its member company
representatives, including railroad companies and One-Call Systems International.
NTDPC has successfully partnered with "one-call" centers such as those in Arizona,
Colorado and Tennessee and, through them, with their software vendors and developers.
Ohio will soon be added to this list. The systems of these vendors are utilized by twenty-
three call centers serving twenty-two states. It is anticipated that vendors serving "One-
Calls" operating in other states and provinces will quickly join in participation.

Allowing a railroad employee who works on many miles of track in many states and
provinces to indicate his location in familiar terms gives the facility owner another "pair
of eyes", in situations where "Mother Nature" or man might disrupt the underground
facility world. A railroad response management communication center deals with any
natural or man-made event that might affect rail operations. The electronic interface
between facility owners and such railroad centers creates win/win solutions that improve
damage prevention. The ability to "talk" with each other in a manner that both can
understand -- the essence of effective communication
-- goes a long way to help our respective industries and the public. The effective use of
railroad mileposts and subdivisions brings hundreds, if not thousands of additional
workers to more effective participation in the "prevention" arena.

Our ever-changing world will always be a technological challenge, but improving
communication and allowing effective input from various industries will do much to
foster the partnering benefits that we all desire. The Alameda Corridor is a great success
story where hundreds of underground utilities have now been protected, by all
participants, due to improved communication. Obstacles remain, but when those
interested in damage prevention come together, win/win solutions are achieved. Such is
the effort and purpose of the NTDPC. Damage prevention has been well served!

Damage Prevention and Safe Excavation
By Duane Hobart – Damage Prevention, WilTel Communications

Type “A-25”, Type “B-45”, Type “C-80”, simple slope, simple bench, multiple bench,
vertically sided lower position, etc… you did not realize digging a hole was so complex.
The National Telecommunications Damage Prevention Council (“NTDPC”) is not only
interested in preventing facility damages, but more importantly wants our excavation
partners to remain attentive and aware of potentially dangerous situations.

Construction involving excavation has many variables, which field personnel and
management must recognize. These variables include everything from contacting your
local One-Call agency to work-site safety. Safe excavation begins with a call to your
One-Call agency and ends with everyone going home safe and sound with a job well
done. In order to accomplish the task at hand make sure you request facility locates well
in advance of when you plan to do the work, usually 48-72 hours prior depending on the
state, and reinforce the importance of adequate trenching and shoring in applicable
construction situations. With the popularity of directional boring and trenchless
technology in recent years, construction and utility companies have had fewer open
trenches to contend with; therefore there may be perceived notions that trenching and
shoring are not as prevalent as they have been in the past. That is not necessarily the
case because in some of these operations, entry and exit pits must be dug and they
frequently qualify as an excavation requiring compliance with OSHA rules.

As you will see in the following example, regardless of whether you are boring in a 20-
inch sewer line or a 4-inch telecommunication cable casing, the potential for serious
damage, injury and ultimately death exists in our everyday work environment.

       “Four employees were boring a hole and pushing a 20-inch pipe casing under a
       road. The employees were in an excavation approximately 9 feet wide, 32 feet
       long and 7 feet deep. Steel plates 8’ x 15’ x ¾”, being used as shoring, were
       placed vertically against the north and south walls of the excavation at
       approximately 30 degree angles without horizontal braces between the steel
       plates. The south wall steel plates tipped over pinning and killing an employee
       between the steel plate and the pipe casing. At the time the plate tipped over a
       backhoe that was being operated adjacent to the excavation.”

 Specific regulations for excavation work, as required by OSHA, are found in the OSHA
construction regulations at 29 CFR 1926.650-.652 and are the responsibility of every
employee to know and follow for their safety and their co-workers safety.

Before you begin an excavation, proper precautions are required (this information is not
meant to be all inclusive but to compliment your overall training):
    Plan your work:
           o Excavators and directional drillers are required to know the applicable dig
               law for the state and plan accordingly.
           o As specified in the state dig laws, excavators must request the location of
               underground facilities at the work site via the One-Call Center and wait
               the required time for all facility owners to mark their plant.
           o If there are underground facilities in the proposed dig area, a pre-
               excavation meeting with the owner(s) or their representative(s) may be
           o If you are planning directional drilling, review the manufacturer’s
               specifications and operating procedures, and mark out the proposed drill
               path prior to your work beginning.
           o Obtain your locate (ticket) number and know its effective life.
           o Create a sketch (profile view) of the work to be performed, including a
               cross-section if directional drilling.
    Ensure underground installations are protected, supported, or removed as
       necessary to safeguard employees.
    Ensure that any surface obstacles, such as trees, rocks, and sidewalks, that may
       create a hazard for you and co-workers, are removed or secured.
    Classify the type of soil and rock deposits at the site (OSHA construction
       regulations at 29 CFR 1926.650-.652) as stable rock, type A, type B, or type C
       soil. The soil classification must be made by one visual and at least one manual
    Select the type of protective system that is appropriate for your situation:
           o Proper sloping and/or benching of the sides of the excavation.
           o Supporting the sides of the excavation with timber shoring or aluminum
               hydraulic shoring.
           o Placing a shield between the sides of the excavation and your work area.
    Inspect the excavation and adjacent areas daily prior to the start of work, after any
       changes in the work scene (rainstorm, heavy vibration, additional spoil piles, etc.),
       for evidence of possible cave-ins, failures of protective systems and equipment,
       hazardous atmospheres, or other hazardous conditions. This is an OSHA
      Your competent person must also be available throughout the workday, as
       needed, for inspection of the dig site and also to verify a utility locate was


Active Involvement in Facility Damage Prevention Activities
Why Coalitions are Important

By Mike McCrary – Manager, BellSouth
and Richard Nelson – Manager, Qwest

In the January issue of Underground Focus the NTDPC feature article dealt with how to
sustain an effective damage prevention program even during an economic downturn.
Readers will recall that emphasis was placed on developing alliances, and building
coalitions with other key groups. A quick look at the NTDPC’s roster, and that of
excellent organizations such as the CGA, NUCA, AGC, NULCA, NASTT, many others -
- all of the ‘acronyms’ that are our partners within the damage prevention arena – reveals
a tremendous amount of expertise and energy focused on common goals.

Perhaps you were one of those individuals who picked up a copy of this magazine at a
recent industry event. You know damage prevention is important – but can you, or your
company, dedicate the time, effort and resources needed to participate effectively? Do
you feel that others can effectively address your concerns, or those specific to your
industry, without your participation? You need to become involved – and you will be
welcomed by your peers. Keep going to the industry shows, keep reading publications.
These efforts will keep you abreast of new technologies, and provide valuable
opportunities for networking and learning. Work with your state one-calls on their
awareness efforts. Get involved with local utility coordination councils. Participate in
any way that you can.

As we look toward our 15th anniversary, the NTDPC continues to build upon and
establish coalitions. Our history provides evidence of that fact – this group was
originally formed to address common contractual issues associated with Southern Pacific
Railroad’s California coastal cable duct system. It did not take long for the California
“common” long-distance carriers to realize that their network integrity and reliability
were linked to that of the local exchange carriers (LECs). There are LECs everywhere,
and railroads go everywhere, and the NTDPC has grown. And, while NTDPC member
companies may be seen battling each other in the competitive telecom environment and
in the media, when it comes to damage prevention our members share common goals and
objectives. These goals are very simple - we want people to call the one-call centers
before they dig, wait the required time before beginning the proposed excavation, respect
the locate marks, and then dig with care. Sound familiar? It should.
NTDPC members support and promote “Dig Safely” efforts. Our members had – and
have - leadership roles in the Common Ground Study, the Path Forward and the Common
Ground Alliance. We work tirelessly to improve one-call, or ‘dig’ legislation, mapping
potential, operational center capabilities, and worksite safety awareness. The NTDPC
has provided training seminars, judged industry locating and excavating competitions,
and distributed educational materials with a damage prevention focus until our arms hurt.
Recently, NTDPC members were encouraged when the President signed the Pipeline
Safety Improvement Act - a law requiring an easy, abbreviated code for excavators to
utilize in contacting the appropriate one-call notification center. Why? Because we saw
the need for this damage prevention and public safety feature in 1999, and have been
building the coalition for implementation in the wireless environment since then. Today
many major cellular providers provide this service (#DIG, or #344) at no cost to the user.
If your provider does not, let them know you would value this feature!

Is the NTDPC the only group working for better awareness of underground facilities, and
damage prevention? Definitely NOT, but we are proud of our working role within the
greater damage prevention coalition. We invite interested individuals to take a look at
our website – http://www.ntdpc.com – and see if there is a nice fit there. If there is
something on our site that can be utilized with your damage prevention efforts, by all
means take advantage. Questions, including membership, can be referred to any of our
participating members. If you feel there is a better fit for you or your company with
another ‘acronym’ – perhaps a group more focused on your particular industry - we
would highly recommend that you pursue membership and get actively involved. After
all, we’ll probably see you there!

The Ongoing Role of Facility Damage Prevention

        Recent economic events, including September 11th, 2001 and the collapse of
multiple major corporations have had a far-reaching impact on the telecom industry at
large, and damage prevention efforts sponsored by those companies. We are pleased to
report efforts within the telecom sector to promote damage prevention have fared well
and survived due to the overall benefits and quantifiable cost avoidance posted by those
efforts. A broad-based approach to prevention can have long-term benefits. The mindset
that you have to guard against is the dilemma of all preventative efforts, which is that
when they are successful, they appear to have been completely unnecessary.

        Entities such as the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) and the National
Telecommunications Damage Prevention Council (NTDPC) continue to develop,
strategize, form new alliances, and remain vigilant in promoting damage prevention -
continuing the vision both organizations regard as vital to protecting public safety and all
buried facilities. From a telecom perspective, we are encouraged not only by these new
partnerships formed, but also by the fact that this allows all interested groups to be a
party to the solution.
        While external factors - the economy and weather, for instance - impact damage
levels, strict internal facility owner self-assessment, including formal damage prevention
programs, are effective. The successes observed from strong damage prevention
programs have allowed the telecom industry to dissect information, and then focus on key
areas to enhance our coalition with other groups, industries and partners. Many of these
key areas will be briefly discussed in this article.

        A strong “proactive” damage prevention effort equates to long term cost
avoidance and company profitability. A reactive damage prevention effort provides a
short term deterrent. One cannot make a good argument that should the current
downward damage trend hold, the company will “save” that money. However, it is easily
verifiable and logical to state that when any company’s overall damage index improves,
those avoided damages can be calculated into dollars saved and can be quickly tracked
back to a strong damage prevention program. Avoided damages can be measured in
numerous ways - reduced overtime hours expended, enhanced claims recovery
probability, reduced customer trouble reports, heightened satisfaction and customer
retention, technicians working on proactive plant improvement and service installation
rather than restoration(s), and reduced negative media targeting. These are only a few
arguments for corporate support of a damage prevention program. Protect what you
already have; it’s cheaper than the alternative.

Individual employee action can be easily correlated to improvements in corporate
damage results. Here are a few examples:
       -   Involvement with utility coordination councils, one-call centers, public forums
           with a damage prevention focus
       -   Strict adherence to all internal damage prevention programs and guidelines
       -   Putting effective indicator/measurement systems in place
       -   Conducting accurate, timely Claims investigative work
       -   Utilizing conventional or digital camera technology during investigative work
       -   Accurate time and material reporting
       -   Participating in awareness activities – newsletters, literature, etc.
       -   Identifying critical facility routes, updating plant records and schematics
       -   Periodically checking the status of cable route marking systems, to ensure
           damaged or missing signs/marks are replaced

Legislative Involvement
        With issuance of the Common Ground study of best practices (1999) we have
seen additional emphasis on revising state one-call laws to further protect all affected
parties. The national Facilities Solution Team, commissioned by the Network Reliability
Steering Committee and comprised of excavators, facility owners, locate companies and
enforcement agencies, issued (2000) a model legislation guideline, which provided
suggested minimum standards in the spirit of Common Ground. Locally, damage
prevention personnel should become involved in the legislative process as early as
possible, working with their legal/regulatory contacts on crafting the new language, or
reviewing proposed changes. From a damage prevention perspective, here are a few keys
to look for:

   Mandatory participation in the one-call notification process.
   Clear, enforceable penalties. The monetary component is a deterrent, but if the
    enforcement body is disinterested, it carries no weight. Needed are reasonable
    penalties, which appropriately increase for willful negligence or documented poor
    performance. Creation of cross-entity advisory boards, or peer-review boards, could
    assist with objectivity.
   Inclusion of new technological segments, e.g. horizontal directional drilling – specific
   Specific responsibilities designed to minimize risk within the defined “tolerance
   Defined limits on locate tickets – for instance, lifespan or maximum size.
   Clear definitions on what constitutes an emergency situation, timelines,
    updates/renewals, and the responsibilities of both facility owner and excavator.

Facility Locating
         Technological and locator training improvements in this arena represent one of
the greater opportunities for reducing the frequency and severity of facility damages.
Many telecom companies have outsourced locating at the local level, striving for overall
service improvements while better controlling expenditures. While compliance with
federal regulations requires an ‘arms-length’ relationship between owner and contractor,
both sides should be involved in efforts designed to reduce the impact and incidence of
facility damages. These efforts would involve activities such as:

       -   Completion and review of performance objectives, as a requirement of
           contractual obligations between facility owner and contractor.
       -   Regularly performing internal/external “Quality and Performance” audits, in
           real-time if possible. This serves as an indicator of performance objectives
           met, or lacking.
       -   Useful metrics, most commonly locator-attributable damages per 1000
           delivered locate opportunities

The improvement of locator performance, and subsequent reduction in locator-
attributable damages resides in monitoring contract activity, and execution at all levels.

Damage Prevention Administration
Basic components of a damage prevention program include such items as:

       -   Dedication of personnel solely to this task
       -   Identification of high risk/critical routes
       -   Utilization of permanent/high visibility marking systems
       -   Detailed root cause analysis of all major damages in your area, with a post-
           mortem review to hopefully prevent a repeat occurrence
       -   Conducting random excavation job site stops, or ‘courtesy stops’,
           insourced/outsourced, formal/informal, and management/craft/both – have a
           presence and be visible.
       -   Continuous improvement of networking/communications across all
           departments, and especially other utilities, via the one-call center. Several
           one-call centers now have Public Relation liaisons that can maximize your
           company’s reach to the excavating community.

Expectations and Accountability
      As noted throughout this article, there are numerous ways for employees to

contribute to a damage prevention program. It is imperative that employees know state

specific one-call law(s), to better determine when there has been a possible violation.

When employees take personal ownership of the outside plant they maintain, a very

effective defense will be formed. If an employee can’t or prefers not to confront an

excavator for personal reasons, simply knowing the law enables that employee to contact

the assigned damage prevention or area manager. Managers responsible for Quality &

Performance should have damage matrices as part of their performance evaluation.

Regular contact and face-to-face time with contractors, excavators, and other utilities is

imperative. Remember that damage prevention is everyone’s responsibility.

   Worth mentioning here is the role of the Security/Risk Management/Claims
   organization, and that of the individual damage prevention investigators.
   Historically, this group has been at the forefront of damage prevention - one of the
   most valuable, visible resources. With this group’s input and assistance, your team
   can incorporate and implement methods and procedures, activities/practices such as
   those noted above to maximize the company’s asset return and damage avoidance.
   This heightened level of involvement will ensure a higher success rate on collections,
   due to the greater attention to detail. While claims collections should not be viewed
   as a revenue stream for individual companies (all would state a preference for no
   damages!), the collections themselves serve as a deterrent.
  1. How are you doing in damage prevention?
  2. Follow-up: How do you know that?

   At industry forums, conventions, etc. many individuals are quick to point out that

their damage prevention program is successful! Damages are ‘way down’. When pressed

(Hey, what worked? Will that work for us?) there is generally a lack of solid quantifiable

data, which was applied consistently, or any actual metrics to back up their statements.

Most often, improvement has been noted over some raw number from the previous year.

Knowledge of historical trends, activity in a given area, and external factors are

necessary. Statistical process control charts provide a balanced approach.

    Utilizing specific metrics at the local level, a district or state may learn which turf is
the troublesome spot for damage(s), which lead to discussions with contractors, utilities,
and local governmental agencies. Metrics, especially the metrics applied to internal
contractor performance objectives, will become a key to identify exceptional or
substandard service providers.

Looking Forward……
As we continue to refine our damage prevention programs, we must emphasize:

- Increasing the level of involvement among employees, and dedicating
physical/monetary resources to damage prevention activities.
- Identifying problem damage areas, high-growth or high-exposure areas. Establish an

internal communication policy, cascade information routinely and monitor damage-

caused activity.

- ‘Courtesy stop’ participation

- Establishing subject matter experts (SMEs)/contacts on legislation at all levels. Partner
with Risk Management, Public Policy, Regulatory, state agencies and one-call centers.
- Ensuring that facility record information provided to one-call centers is as current and
accurate as possible– you may be paying for more than you think when databases aren’t
updated regularly.
- Migrating towards standardization of locate ticket information required.

- Implementing a national referral number whereby an excavator can reach the applicable

state specific one-call center directly, toll-free, by dialing those digits via cell phones or

conventional means. This effort is well underway.

- Maintaining a strong regional and national presence in the damage prevention arena.

- Improving design, placement and visual protection of all high-profile routes.
- And finally, working as a coalition with excavators, enforcement agencies and other
facility owners to ensure public safety and that all buried facilities are protected.

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