Make the call before digging underground

Lisa Goudy
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Workers load up their plates at the Contractor Safety Awareness Association (CSAA) and the Saskatchewan Common Ground Alliance (SCGA) contractor safety breakfast at the Heritage Inn on March 27, 2014.

Annual contractor safety breakfast held at the Heritage Inn

Calling first before digging will save lives.

“If you hit a pipeline, if you’re still alive you’re lucky, but you’ll still have a cost associated with that repair,” said Bev Graham, public awareness co-ordinator with Spectra Energy. “It’s basically to save lives because you don’t want to hit any underground pipelines or utilities.”

Spectra Energy is one of the pipeline companies under the umbrella organization, the Saskatchewan Common Ground Alliance (SCGA), that help put on contractor safety breakfasts. The first breakfast this year of 29 towns and cities in Saskatchewan was at the Heritage Inn in Moose Jaw on Thursday morning.

The SCGA and the Contractor Safety Awareness Association (CSAA) breakfasts convey the message to “Call Before You Dig” and “Look Up and Live.”

“We do it prior to the busy season every spring when construction et cetera gets going. We just want to remind people to call before they dig,” said Graham. “Before you’re going to dig 12 inches or more in the ground, it doesn’t matter if you’re in the city or the country, you have to call Sask. 1st Call to get underground utilities located.”

Not all utilities are registered with Sask. 1st Call, but through land titles, municipalities, cities and towns, contractors can find those unregistered with Sask. 1st Call.

“Saskatchewan is busy right now. We’re booming and growing and there’s a lot of activity going on. So people need to be aware that they need to call before they dig,” said Graham.

After the call is made requesting a locate, the next step is to develop a work plan, perform a hazard and risk assessment, confirm locates, perform a pre-job safety meeting, start the work and complete the project.

The safety message also applies to power lines.

“Sometimes people get complacent and forget about those overhead lines or those underground facilities,” said Graham. “So it’s just an awareness of that.”

There were 400 attendees at the Heritage Inn compared to 300 in 20143. Overall in Saskatchewan, the breakfasts and associated safety message will reach 5,000 construction workers, supervisors, business owners, emergency responders, rural municipalities and anyone else associated with ground disturbance of overhead lines.

The contractor breakfasts have been held for 25 years in Saskatchewan.

“Every spring, it’s just a group of pipelines and utilities that get together and host this breakfast together,” said Graham. “It’s a free breakfast and we hand out materials that they can use during the year.”

Some of the information distributed included the CSAA 2014 uniform colour code for locating utility lines. Red is for electric power lines, cables conduit and lighting cables; yellow is for gas, oil, steam, petroleum or gaseous material; and orange is for communication, alarm, signal lines or conduit.

Purple is for reclaimed water, irrigating and slurry lines; blue is for potable water; green is for sewers and drain lines; and pink is for temporary survey markings. White is for typical conditions in a proposed excavation and black is for snow conditions in a proposed excavation.

The phone number for Sask. 1st Call is 1-866-828-4888. For more information about “Call Before You Dig” and best practices around that, visit

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: Heritage Inn, Saskatchewan Common Ground Alliance, Spectra Energy

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Moose Jaw

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