How To Avoid Disaster With Underground Utilities

Underground pipe

One of the first steps of a demolition project is to map out and plan for underground utilities. If a pipe is burst or a line is cut, it means downtime for your crew and lost time in clean up and repair. In 2013 alone, about 335-thousand utilities were reported damaged during construction and demolition jobs, but with proper planning, these accidents are avoidable. Demolition Magazine published an article detailing the steps you need to take to avoid damage to underground utilities. Here are the crucial things you need to know.

  • Look above ground

While the pipes and lines may run underground, there should be signs of potential problems visible when you get to the job site. For electrical utilities, look for meters, light poles, transformer boxes or splice boxes. If you see propane tanks, or gas meters or regulators in the area, there's likely gas lines underground. Water lines can be spotted by looking for fire hydrants or connections on buildings nearby and looking for manhole covers.

  • Call 811

Contacting 811 allows you to request a crew to locate underground utilities in the area. These lines will then be clearly marked so you can then formulate a plan on how to work without disturbing them. This is the most efficient way to locate each utility in the area. The slight delay in work is certainly worth it compared to the risk of longer delays should you cut a line during demolition.

  • Proper excavation

Even with lines properly marked, proper excavation techniques are required to stay safe. These will depend on the environment and lay-out of the underground utilities. For example, using hand tools as opposed to heavy equipment may be necessary in some situations.

  • Emergency planning

All of the proper planning and techniques won't guarantee the safety of your crew, however. It's important to have a plan in place just in case a line is cut. This often happens because of an underground utility that wasn't properly marked ahead of time. If one is found, but not broken and the appropriate company can be contacted. If it is cut, the safety of workers in the area should be the first priority.

At Demolition Technologies, we take pride in the safety of our crew on each and every demolition job. Contact us to learn more about our procedures and to have your demolition job done right.