What are the Safety Measures for Excavation?

What are the Safety Measures for Excavation?

Due to the existence of a particularly significant number of dangers, excavation is one of the most dangerous construction processes. To reduce the risk of excavation to construction workers, private utility locating services must follow a number of safety procedures.

It’s absolutely critical to take every precaution possible to ensure everyone’s safety and the project’s success.

Comprehensive utility locating, utility infrastructure investigations, damage prevention, and mitigation actions for issues detected during preliminary surveillance are all part of effective planning.

What is Excavation Work?

Excavation labor entails the removal of earth or rock from a location using tools, machines, or explosives to create an open face, hole, or cavity.

On any construction site, it is the initial action. It begins with the excavation of the structure’s foundation pit, which can be shallow or deep. It’s finished by filling the same pit with excavated earth or soil brought in from the outside.

The size and depth of the foundation, the types of soil strata, the water table, and the adjacent structures, among other factors, all influence construction excavation.

A person who engages in demolition, excavation, tunneling, or construction that causes damage to a pipeline facility that may threaten life or inflict significant bodily harm or property damage, according to the Federal Pipeline Inspection, Protection, and Safety Act.

Excavation work can take place in a variety of locations, including:

  • Business premises
  • Construction sites
  • Public areas.

Excavation work includes the following tasks:

  • Open excavations
  • Potholing 
  • Pit excavations
  • Retaining walls and trenches
  • Shafts and drives

The Hazards of Excavation and Managing Risks

It’s not difficult to understand why. Trenching and excavation operations offer particularly high risks to workers.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 130 people died in trenching and excavation operations between 2011 and 2016. The private construction business was responsible for 80% of the fatalities, with 49% occurring between 2015 and 2016.

Striking services that are overhead or underground can kill or gravely hurt workers and those nearby. It is crucial to avoid undermining services as much as possible. All overhead and underground services should be identified and anticipated by good planning and supervision, which will assist in determining what activities will be permitted near the excavation activity.

To help you manage the risks, it is crucial to work with trusted private utility locating services. The planning phase of an excavation operation, which includes hazard detection and soil research, is where safe work practices begin.

An experienced private utility locating services should look for indicators of subsurface utilities such as fire hydrants, telephones, and transformers before proceeding.

Create a Utility Map

While you should always call 811 before digging, it’s also a good idea to create a utility map before beginning any utility service project. After all, 811 may be unaware of some private utility cables or unknown subterranean utility lines, or its information may be outdated.

You can use old utility maps as a reference while creating a utility map, but you should never use them to guide your excavation. Utility maps must be updated on a regular basis, and preparing one before the start of a new project is the best approach to avoid mishaps.

Falling Objects

Due to the usage of heavy machinery, falling items are a significant cause of excavation injuries.

Excavated material, referred to as a spoil pile, should be kept at least two feet away from the excavation’s edge.

Although it may be essential to move spoils to another area, this procedure often necessitates the installation of holding measures. While loading and unloading products, workers must also keep a safe distance from automobiles and other equipment.

Water accumulation prevention is an important safety measure in construction in general, but it’s especially vital around excavations.


Trenches can have hazardous atmospheres due to a lack of oxygen or a high concentration of another gas. Some trenches may have an environment that necessitates the use of additional protective gear such as masks or respirators.

Before the private utility locating staff begins an excavation, the atmosphere must be examined under the supervision of a qualified person, and at regular intervals thereafter.

The qualified person in charge of an excavation project must also take adequate measures to mitigate the risk posed by the excavation’s atmosphere, which may include removing personnel from the site until conditions improve.


Collapsed tunnels or cave-ins are one of the most prevalent accidents that private utility locators face when undertaking excavation work or dealing with subterranean lines.

Private utility locating contractors must examine the soil composition and design and install structures that will serve as support and shielding to avoid this. They can assess the likelihood of a cave-in by testing the soil ahead of time, while support beams can prevent tunnel collapse and shields can protect employees in the event of a cave-in.


Excavations should only be left open for as long as is necessary to complete the job. After the site has been completed, it should be reviewed, primarily for the purpose of improving safety procedures.

The assessment’s findings might then be incorporated into future operations planning, resulting in a trend of continuous improvement.

Proper Equipment

Excavation projects are no laughing matter. Most projects cannot be completed without the essential tools, even with the most experienced utility personnel.

Investing in pricey equipment for a one-time activity can be unwise if you’re a homeowner digging for a one-time project.

Rather, it is safer and more cost-effective to hire an expert utility finder who already has such equipment and is familiar with using it to provide services. These excavators have been trained to use equipment like ground-penetrating radar to verify that all survey markers are accurately documented.

Hire Potholing Utilities You Can Trust

Whether you’re excavating to install new underground utilities or landscaping, you should always follow the safety precautions outlined above to protect yourself and those around you.

If you’re a property owner and have no experience with private utility locating or digging in a utility site, you may not know what to do if you accidentally hit a gas line or a water pipe. As a result, it’s best to delegate the task to utility providers or hire professionals who specialize in potholing utilities.

Our team consists of professionals with years of experience in potholing utilities services, and we treat all of our requests with the highest care. Contact us at Util-Locate today!

When to Call in a Private Utility Locator

When to Call in a Private Utility Locator

Any time you plan to dig on your own residential or commercial property, the first step should be to discover utility lines. The help of a private utility locating service should be used for both small and large dig operations, whether you’re excavating on private or public land.

These services are extremely useful for detecting and avoiding public underground utilities. It is more common than you might imagine coming upon underground utilities while excavating or doing other excavation work.

So, we’ll go over all you need to know about utility locating, when it should be done, and why it’s such an important initial step for every business owner in the section below.

Private Utility Locating: What You Need to Know?

Is it time to call your private utility locator? We understand that you don’t always want to call if you don’t have to. However, if you’re digging on a commercial site, you’ll almost certainly come across hidden private utilities.

Any utility that extends beyond the meter is typically referred to as a private utility. Warehouses, office parks, universities, hospitals, retail projects, and industrial sites are examples of situations where a private location is required.

Commercial sites, such as apartment complexes or other areas with restricted access, may also be included.

A trained utility locator will visit your site when a site visit has been booked to determine if a full locate is achievable based on site conditions. If the conditions are suitable, a ground-penetrating radar will be utilized to scan the ground surface and detect the location of an object.

This information is then marked or mapped to produce a clear picture of regions to avoid when excavating or doing other invasive groundwork.

Calling Private Utility Locating Services: Call Before You Dig

“Call before you dig” is a phrase you’ve probably heard. This campaign has been launched around the country to educate people about the significance of detecting subsurface utilities before excavating.

Whether you’re building a pool, putting up a fence, or landscaping, make sure the area is clear of utility lines.

From any state, you or the company you’ve engaged to execute the work should dial 811.

Before excavating on any business or residential property, including your own. Technicians will be dispatched to the site to use electromagnetic equipment to locate potholing utilities.

Then any that run from the street to the service meter are marked. This will assist households and professionals in avoiding damage to water, sewage, power, and natural gas lines.

Do You Need Private Utility Locating Services?

You’ll almost certainly need to do a second call before beginning your excavation endeavor. Private utility locating services may be required to locate and demarcate underground electrical wires, gas pipes, and other utilities on private, residential, commercial, and municipal property.

The wires that run beyond the service meter are known as private utilities. Electrical lines running from the meter to a house or building, for example, would be considered private.

Even on your own land, it’s critical to have these boundaries clearly and properly designated before beginning to dig for safety and liability concerns. You’ll need to hire a private underground utility locator to have these identified.

Utility maps are frequently missing, obsolete, erroneous, or incomplete, therefore private locator personnel do not rely on them.

Instead, they use a variety of specialized technologies to conduct a thorough analysis of the area. Electromagnetic equipment, ground penetrating radar (GPR), and electronic or radio frequency (RF) pipe and cable locating instruments are just a few examples.

Finally, a private locator may create comprehensive, high-quality utility maps of active and abandoned lines.

What Happens When Potholing Utilities are Hit?

Excavation work that is carried out without calling a private utility locating service is a hazardous operation.

When buried utilities are impacted, workers can easily be wounded or killed, making the location of subterranean utilities a safety issue first and foremost. Damage to the utility and the equipment in use is a possibility.

Repairs of underground utilities can be costly and time-consuming due to their nature. These frequently necessitate the excavation of the full length of pipe, cable, or conduit, which comes with significant fines and downtime.

Damage to nearby networks can result in difficulties like internet outages or flooding in the vicinity. When a buried utility is destroyed, the contractor is responsible for repairing it as soon as possible.  Not to mention these actions can be costly and time-consuming.

Public Utilities Vs. Private Utilities

Public utility services install public utilities to give service to a specific area. Regardless of whether they are on public or private land, the public utility provider owns and maintains these lines. Gas, power, and electricity are examples of public utilities.

Private utilities are those that extend beyond service meters or public utilities and, in many cases, onto privately owned land. Electrical feeders and gas mains running across parking lots or to important institutions such as hospitals or fire stations are examples of private utilities.

Lines running to and from substations, major industrial complexes, and refineries are examples. Because these utilities would be owned and maintained by the property owner, they would be outside the jurisdiction of utility locating firms.

What are the Different Private Utility Lines?

Most homes have unmarked private utility wires, which pose a serious risk to anyone excavating.

It’s critical that all lines are identified and marked. These are just a few of the subterranean utilities that could be present on your property.

  • Electricity for exterior lighting
  • Septic pipes
  • Sprinkler systems
  • Invisible fencing
  • Gas lines for heated pools
  • Gas lines to fire pits or grills
  • Power for a detached garage
  • Storm drains
  • Satellite dish lines

Call a Reliable Private Utility Locator

Using a private utility finder to avoid hitting concealed utilities is an excellent technique to avoid hitting them. Electric, gas, oil, steam, communications, water, sewer, and storm lines may all be found by private utility locators like us.

We are experts at identifying buried materials, removing the guesswork from your excavation. Don’t take the risk of hitting buried utilities, contact us at Util-Locate today!