Anytime an individual disturbs the ground to a depth greater than 6” there is the risk that contact may be made with any of the thousands of kilometers of underground facilities in Saskatchewan. The associated risks are considerable from the safety of the employee and the public, to damage to the facilities, digging equipment and the environment. Further, any of these incidents can impede work as they require investigation and potentially repair of the facility.
Those who disturb the ground need access to consistent, accurate information that will help them minimize the risks of contacting buried facilities associated with ground disturbance activities. Employers must ensure that their employees are competent to carry out their required tasks. Since competency involves a combination of qualifications, training and experience, employers have an obligation to provide quality training for their employees.
Appropriate training and competency of all employees is an essential element to the integration and acceptance of the SCGA Best Practices for Damage Prevention.
Introductory Ground Disturbance Training Programs should expose the employee to all the intricacies and nuances that are part of most ground disturbance projects. It should include general information as to the various types of infrastructure that can be buried underground and that they may be buried at varying depths. Introduction of Sask1st Call and the services that it provides should be discussed. Also line locating principles and markings for each type of facility should be thoroughly identified. The value of planning and tailgate pre-job meetings prior to each and every project should be discussed. Recognizing common hazards and identifying the causes of most common types of hits should be included. Proper excavation procedures should be identified as what to do when something is missing or something is wrong.
Advanced Programs should discuss mapping, crossing agreements, permits, owner notifications and hazard assessments. The need to search other sources for buried facilities other than Sask1st Call members must be identified. In addition, proper exposure procedures should be introduced noting the various soil types in Saskatchewan and their respective risks. Emergency response procedures and reporting requirements for line hits must be covered in this level of course. Discussion of the regulatory process within Saskatchewan and an emphasis on the responsibility of supervisors should be included.
Training programs can be remotely provided but some field application is also desired. A good training program would also have an update or renewal process for employees to update their competency and refresh their knowledge.