June 15, 2018
Milton mayor proclaims Dig Safe Month
Milton Mayor Gord Krantz (centre), prepares to raise the Dig Safe flag with ORCGA President and CEO, Douglas Lapp (right), and Terry Murphy.
By Terry Murphy CLM

Terry MurphyTown of Milton mayor, the Honourable Gordon Krantz, proclaimed the months of April and May as “Dig Safe” months for the Town of Milton and for Halton Hills during a special ceremony at the Landscape Ontario home office in Milton, Ont., on May 4.

Organized by the Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance (ORCGA), the special Dig Safe event like the one held around the flag pole at Landscape Ontario, is designed to raise awareness about the need to call for locates before digging in the soil.

The ceremony included a proclamation by Mayor Krantz and a flag raising ceremony. Many similar events have taken place this spring around the province in key municipalities. A Dig Safe event in Toronto this April attracted over 250 politicians and contractors to celebrate the progress the ORCGA have made in reducing the number of underground damages.

The longest serving mayor in Canada (at 38 years), Mayor Krantz has now supported the Dig Safe initiative for three years in a row. During his time as mayor, Milton has grown from a population of around 30,000 to over 110,000 and has recently earned the title as the fastest growing town in the country. Due to this overwhelming amount of development, Mayor Krantz is very supportive of the damage prevention industry and encourages both excavating contractors and residents to call 1-800-400-2255 for locates prior to digging in the soil. Milton has seen such a growth, that the Mayor has commented on the importance of protecting our underground utility assets and the safety of all workers and the public.

Milton’s tremendous building boom and the importance of obtaining locates on each project protects the safety of industry employees and the public from costly accidents, personal accidents and even a fatality. During the Dig Safe event, Mayor Krantz stressed the importance and his appreciation of the work done by the ORCGA and passed on similar words of support from the Town of Halton Hills.

The audience on May 4 was reminded about some of the important statistics that are key to measuring the performance of the damage prevention industry. The total number of underground utility hits in Ontario in 2017 was 5,149, up from 4,497 in 2016. The green industry (which includes landscaping and fencing) accounts for about 15 per cent of the total number of utility hits in Ontario. Landscaping hits have decreased slightly over the last couple years, while hits by fencing contractors has increased. Irrigation and agriculture caused very few hits and are negligible components of the Green Industry.

Home and property owners are responsible for about 12 per cent of the total number of utility hits in the province. Events such as the one at Landscape Ontario also help to educate those groups on the possible dangers and damage that can result from digging without first obtaining locates.

About 20 years ago, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) rate for the landscape industry quickly skyrocketed to nearly 10 per cent. A strategic plan was developed at LO’s provincial board level to educate contractors and to raise awareness to the importance of on the job safety. Through the Safety Groups Program, speakers and discussions at chapter meetings, magazine articles, Congress seminars and special safety events, this multi-faceted approach reduced WSIB rates down to 3.5 per cent.

In order to drastically reduce the number of underground utility hits by the green industry, we need to once again focus at the board level and disperse the “call before you dig” message from the top down. For starters, if more LO members joined the ORCGA, they would have access to more news, education and resources about the need to first call for locates. Let’s see how many LO members join the ORCGA to start that process.

Thank you to all those who attended one of the ORCGA’s awareness events this spring. You have helped to support the ORCGA’s damage prevention efforts. If you would like more information on the many benefits of joining the ORCGA, please call 1-866-446-4493.  

Terry Murphy can be reached at tvmurphy@ca.inter.net.