The majority of damages attributed to Excavation Practices point specifically to failure to maintain clearance and/or failure to pothole. These root causes are combined here because they are closely related, often selected interchangeably in damage investigations and involve safe excavation within the tolerance zone.
CGA’s Excavator White Paper, published in 2019, took a closer look at awareness and execution of safe digging practices within the excavator community. The paper noted that “excavators have limited knowledge about regulations beyond the need to notify before beginning work,” with the survey “showing that concepts such as potholing, needing to maintain marks or request re-marks, and other critical but lesser-emphasized excavation Best Practices do not have the same level of awareness and compliance as making the notification.”
Increased emphasis on safe digging practices specifically within the tolerance zone would have an impact on excavator errors in the field. However, awareness and education are only one contributing factor. Other steps that could contribute to more widespread use of potholing include:
- Project owners (including facility owner/operators) requiring and adequately compensating for potholing.
- Applying emerging mapping/GIS technologies in project design and subsurface utility engineering (SUE). CGA’s 2022 Technology Report included case studies highlighting opportunities for improved mapping and use of design/SUE. Improved mapping can actually reduce potholing and associated expenses by reducing wasteful or unsuccessful potholes (not finding the utility searched for).