November 15, 2011
By Terry Murphy CLP

Terry MurphyLast year the landscape industry reduced underground utility hits by 36 per cent. Why? Mainly, because landscapers are now calling ahead for locates and being extra careful when digging.

Can we further reduce these numbers? I think so, but it may depend on the next few months. In October and throughout November, everything depends on the due diligence of landscapers, as to whether we can reduce our hits for 2011. We need to remind our landscape construction crews of the responsibility to obtain locates before digging.

Remember, if you hit a small gas line going into a residential property, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority will invoice you $750 to $1,000 for its investigation and the gas utility will charge repair costs anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500, depending on the circumstances. The average total cost per hit is around $2,500. Fines are virtually eliminated if you have obtained locates. A utility underground hit also could trigger a WSIB Workwell Audit, which will cost dearly in time and potential fines.

We sometimes have a mental or fatigue lapse as we approach the year’s end. Please bring this important subject up in your company’s tailgate safety sessions. The fourth quarter is no time to relax your damage prevention efforts.

811 telephone number sought

The Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance (ORCGA) is continuing to work hard to convince the authorities that a national 811 telephone number for locates will not only reduce accidents, but make business more efficient and eliminate other risks. I will keep you up-to-date as to what progress is made toward implementing this goal. Once the number is installed, companies would require only one call and your locates would arrive automatically on schedule.

ORCGA will hold a damage prevention seminar for your company. This seminar was developed for the landscape industry to train employees on damage prevention considerations. You may want to consider this seminar for one of your winter educational programs. Contact Jim Douglas at to book this seminar, which takes about three to four hours to complete.

Please talk it up at industry meetings. The more we mention locates, the greater the visibility. This will help get the message to the non-members of Landscape Ontario. Talking it up will help our whole industry. 
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