How would you like to eliminate the risk of subsurface damage on your facility or campus?
It’s possible – if you have a comprehensive ground disturbance policy in place that helps mitigate the risk of utility strikes and damages.
The primary purpose of a ground disturbance policy is to help facility owners and managers avoid subsurface damage by establishing a requirement for a utility locate to be performed prior to excavation.
Ground disturbance policies typically include requirements for in-depth review and locating of utility information, and notification of community members whenever construction is going to take place. This goes above and beyond the federal law requiring contractors and excavators to contact their state 811 service prior to breaking ground.
811 contractors only locate public utilities. Private utilities – those owned and operated by businesses or other private entities – make up over 60% of all buried utilities in the United States. So, to ensure no subsurface damage takes place on your project, your ground disturbance policy should require that a private utility locating company is engaged to locate and map all privately owned utilities in your intended dig site.
In 2021, GPRS hired Finch to conduct a survey of facility managers, administrators, and directors – most of whom self-identified as early adopters of new technology. Finch’s research found that despite frequent projects that require ground-disturbance and having formal ground-disturbance policies, facility managers regularly experienced costly issues when breaking ground on their properties.
Two-thirds of facility managers surveyed said they have had an experience with damages during a project. Most of those damages involved utility outages due to an underground utility strike.
On average, damages resulting from utility strikes led to 2-3 months of downtime, and $56,000 in repair costs.
Many facility managers have experienced damages despite their best efforts. Even with planning and practices in place, they recognize the inherent risk when breaking ground and are open to continuously improving dig policies and procedures.
Most campuses have a ground disturbance policy in place. And while over half of facility managers surveyed by Finch expressed satisfaction in their existing policies, nearly all expressed interest in making their dig policies more comprehensive.
GPRS team members are experts at mitigating subsurface damage thanks to our adherence to the Subsurface Investigation Methodology (SIM). SIM can also play an important role in helping to improve dig policies by raising the standards for utility mapping prior to excavation.
SIM is the industry-leading process for conducting utility locates, concrete scans, leak detections, and video (CCTV) pipe inspections. The SIM standard specifies that a professional utility locating contractor must utilize multiple locating technologies – including ground penetrating radar (GPR) and electromagnetic (EM) locating – to create redundancy and repeatability in the results of their subsurface investigations.
To become SIM certified – a requirement to work in the field for GPRS – our Project Managers complete a minimum of 320 hours of field training and 80 hours of classroom training. They face a variety of real-world scenarios designed to prepare them for even the most unique situations they may encounter in the field.
SIM is not just a training program for utility locators. It provides a step-by-step approach to what you should expect from a utility locating company in terms of the collection method and the quality of the subsurface data collected, ensuring that you receive information that is accurate and actionable.
Through our commitment to SIM, GPRS Project Managers have achieved and maintain a 99.8%+ rate of accuracy on the over 500,000 utility locating and concrete scanning projects we’ve completed since our founding in 2001.
At GPRS, our goal is 100% subsurface damage prevention. We want to help you achieve your goal of keeping your projects on schedule, your budget intact, and your people safe. That’s why we offer free ground disturbance policy reviews to help you ensure you have the procedures in place to guarantee success.
Click here to request a ground disturbance policy review today!
Frequently Asked Questions
What depth qualifies as a ground disturbance?
The answer to this question varies depending on who you ask. OHIO811, the Ohio branch of the national call-before-you dig service for locating public utilities, states that you should always contact them before any type of excavation, which the Ohio Revised Code defines as “…the use of hand tools, powered equipment, or explosives to move earth, rock, or other materials in order to penetrate or bore or drill into the earth, or to demolish any structure whether or not it is intended that the demolition will disturb the earth.”
At GPRS, we believe that if you are breaking ground, you are causing a ground disturbance. It is vital that you contact both 811 and a private utility locator like GPRS to ensure you have a full picture of the built world beneath your jobsite before breaking ground. This will help you avoid costly and dangerous subsurface damage.
You can access your state’s 811 online request form here.
What is the purpose of a ground disturbance policy?
The primary purpose of a ground disturbance policy is to establish a requirement for a utility locate to be performed prior to excavation, so costly and potentially dangerous subsurface damage can be avoided. Ground disturbance policies typically also include requirements for in-depth review and locating of utility information, compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommendations and mandates on trenching, and notification of community members whenever construction is going to take place.
What is the best way to prevent damage when digging?
By law, you are required to contact your state’s 811 service prior to breaking ground, so that an 811 contractor can provide you with the approximate location of any public utilities running through your intended dig site. But because 811 contractors only locate public utilities, and over 60% of all buried utilities are privately owned, it’s essential that you hire a private utility locating company like GPRS to fully visualize the built world beneath your jobsite and ensure you avoid costly and potentially dangerous subsurface damage. Click here to schedule a service or request a quote today!