January 15, 2013
By Terry Murphy CLP

Terry MurphyThe Technical Standards and Safety Association (TSSA), which is responsible for the safety of underground facilities, fuels and elevators, has announced higher fines for 2013.

John Marshall, TSSA spokesperson, says, “This is the first rate increase in almost four years, and is necessary to cover basic administrative cost increases.”

Striking gas line

If a contractor hits a gas line and TSSA comes out to investigate and fill out a report, currently there is an automatic flat charge of $700. Starting in 2013, this flat fee will increase to $850.

Depending on the extent of the investigation, the fees will increase from the $850 rate. This flat fee is a TSSA administrative charge that is separate from the repair bill that is invoiced by the utility to the contractor. This can reach $2,000 or more, depending on the magnitude of the damage and the extent of repairs.  

New penalty for no paperwork

A new fee, or penalty charge, has been introduced and announced by TSSA. Starting in 2013, if a TSSA inspector randomly checks a project and the contractor is excavating without locate paperwork, there will be an automatic $500 fine given to the contactor. This new fine also began in January and is in addition to the $850 administrative fee when there is a gas line hit.

TSSA is trying to make a point here, as all the authorities are concerned with the number of contractors digging without locates or any regard for the law and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Locates may last 60 days

There is currently a proposal before a standing committee of the Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance (ORCGA) to review the present 30-day validity time and extend it to 60 days. The proposal was tabled at a recent ORCGA best practices meeting.

Most landscape contractors would support extending the timeline of locate paperwork for a 60-day period.  

Awaiting 2012 statistics

We are awaiting news on the number of utility hits for the landscape industry in 2012. Our goal in 2010 was to reduce our hits by 50 per cent by 2012 – 2013. We managed a 37 per cent reduction in 2011. The results should be available by March.
Contact Terry Murphy at tvmurphy@ca.inter.net with any comments or suggestions on this article.