April 16, 2017
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By Terry Murphy CLM

Terry MurphyWith the start of another excavating season, locate providers are starting to get orders from ON1CALL and utilities and their customers are planning their spring activities. These companies are very similar to the landscape or fence contractor because their workload peaks dramatically in early spring and doesn’t slow down until summer. Staffing of qualified locate specialists is always a problem for a locate provider. This is the same as looking for a qualified landscaper in early spring. The question I have every spring for contractors is: “Are you doing everything possible to forecast your locate requirements and prioritize your job schedule requirements for ON1CALL?” Remember, the locate providers are trying to schedule things to meet the excavator’s requirements. Are you doing your own critical path scheduling to help them do their job?

In a perfect world, a landscaper knows what schedule they are going to follow when the season starts. While one hopes it will not change, you know that it will. Items such as job site conditions, weather, material availability, staffing and many unknown factors will require you to alter your existing schedule. When you revise your work schedule, don’t forget to advise ON1CALL or your locate provider. Forecasting in advance saves everybody time and money, however, when plans change, the locate provider also needs to know the new schedule so they can adjust as well.

The locate process

You must call ON1CALL before you dig. This is the law. ON1CALL will then schedule your locate request with a locate provider. The process is supposed to take five working days from the time you call until the markings are on the ground and you have the paperwork. The person who digs needs to have the paperwork on their person to commence digging. Now let’s be honest, the exact same reasons why a contractor sometimes cannot deliver on their promise is exactly the same for a locate provider. Due to unusually large volumes of locates required in the spring, five days will probably not be achieved in many cases. Fortunately, we have legislation in our favour that says by law, locates must be delivered in five days. If the locate provider does not complete the job in five days and you are in a real jam and need the locate immediately, then please call the locate provider noted on your locate ticket from the locate provider. If you still can’t get a satisfactory solution, you can call Steve Waugh at ON1CALL and he will investigate and get your problem solved. But please remember, the locate provider is under extreme pressure in early spring, just as you are. In spring, we need to help ourselves by only getting the locates that we really need and by forecasting jobs accurately.

Backyard locates

A call for locates to ON1CALL will give you markings from the street to the property entrance. It will not include a side or backyard locate. You are responsible for those locates yourself. Three seminars were held at Landscape Ontario this past winter that trained contractors on how to do their own backyard or side yard locates. In order to do this, you need to know how to do the locate and have the appropriate equipment to locate a utility line. The seminars were well attended and contractors were happy with the information provided.


Please review your job schedules and plan your construction projects as much as possible. Call ON1CALL with your schedule requirements so they can plan their scheduling with the locate providers. Let them know of any changes so they are not doing locates on properties you are not going to work on in the near future. This will help everybody to do their jobs as efficiently as possible.
Terry Murphy may be reached at tvmurphy@ca.inter.net with any comments, suggestions, or questions.