Damage Prevention/Safety Program Enjoys Strong Start At UCT

The debut of the Damage Prevention and Safety Conference at the 2010 Underground Construction Technology International Conference & Exhibition (UCT) got off to a promising start, said event coordinator Walt Kelly, and participants were enthusiastic about the content and value of educational sessions and hands on training.

The conference was structured to be useful to field personal responsible for locating and marking buried utility infrastructure, damage prevention specialists, utility contractors and engineers who plan and design underground projects.

The conference consisted of six educational sessions on Jan.19, the first day of UCT, and a locator certification training seminar the following day.

“We are very pleased with the conference,” said Kelly. “Each of the educational sessions was well attended, and I was impressed with the background knowledge and level of interest of those participating. They definitely were here to learn and to apply knowledge gained on their daily jobs. Several participants told me they would welcome even more advanced training.”

Educational sessions
Providing Better Ticket Information To One Call, conducted by Kelly, covered information needed by one call personnel to best originate underground utility locates and manage work flows to maximize efficiency;

Supplementing One Call: How To Get Accurate Locates On Private Property, conducted by Mike Parilac, Staking University, discussed how to ensure utilities are accurately located and marked on sites outside the jurisdiction of one call agencies;

Preventing Deadline Accidents In Confined Work Spaces, presented by Kirby Lastinger, RescuePros, shared his experiences of confined space rescues and the dangers, ways to avoid them and regulatory requirements for those who work in confined spaces;

Cross Bores And Legacy Guidelines, sponsored by the Cross Bore Safety Association and presented by Mark Bruce, association president, reviewed the potential dangers inherent in striking natural gas lines that have inadvertently been installed through sanitary sewer pipes;

Get The D.I.R.T. On Underground Utility Incidents, presented by J.D. Maniscalo, Utility Notification Center of Colorado, covered the Common Ground Alliance Damage Industry Reporting Tool (D.I.R.T.), described how this important data gathering tool works and why contractors as well as utility operators should contribute data.

Locating Existing Underground Utilities for Tie Ins, Loren Snyder, P.E., Fluor Corp., included information about locating procedures utilized in subsurface utility engineering planning steps to effectively map positions of underground facilities.

Darren Wertz, safety manager for NPL Construction, Courtland, IL, attended most sessions and found all beneficial.

“It is valuable to review all confined space entry standards and requirements required by OSHA,” he related.

Jim Timberlake, president of Ted Berry Co., Livermore, ME, said safety is a vital priority with his company which specializes in trenchless construction and rehabilitation projects.

“We never start a job without the proper safety procedures being in place, and coming to events such as this one is a good way to be sure we have all the latest information,” he said.

Said Brenda Perry, TECO Peoples Gas, St. Petersburg, FL: “I’m in engineering and also damage facility coordinator for my division, and I came looking for new techniques to use in investigations of damages that will benefit my company. I’m very pleased with the sessions.”

Locator Certification Seminar
The day long Staking University Certification Seminar provided students with the basics of locating underground utilities and obtaining accurate and complete location data. Training included instruction on locating equipment, location date, troubleshooting techniques and other skills necessary to pass Staking’s certification test. The session was a condensed version of the course presented at Staking University’s campus and client facilities throughout the year.

“We had a good group attending the seminar and its size facilitated individual contact with those enrolled,” said Mike Parilac, Staking University president and senior instructor. “As a result of the session, two of the companies represented will schedule full seminar sessions for locating personnel, one at our campus, and the other at the client’s facilities.”

Students used a 40 by 90 foot area on the exhibit floor, designated the DPS Zone, that included an under floor grid enabling participants to locate simulated underground utilities.

“I truly enjoyed being a part of your Staking U class at UCT,” said Patina Johnson, Damage Prevention Department, TECO Peoples Gas, Fort Myers, FL. AI walked away with much knowledge on the mechanics of the locating instruments as well as ways to provide better locates.”

Walt Kelly is a consultant who provides a variety of services in the underground damage prevention field and frequently is called on as an expert witness in litigation involving utility accidents. Previously, he served as director of the Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety and on the board of directors of Gopher State (Minnesota) One Call.

Mike Parilac has been involved in utility construction since 1982 and established Staking University in 1998. He also owns Underground Focus magazine and Planet Underground, a resource for products and services related to underground utility damage prevention.

Parilac said many industry damage prevention programs are developed for facility owners, rather than field personnel.

“UCT’s large attendance of contractors and utility people responsible for making locates make it an excellent venue for conducting practical locating programs for the people actually responsible for accurately finding and marking buried facilities,” he said.

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