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Know what’s below: ground disturbance safety

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by Amy Bunton
January 4, 2017

Safety, Natural gas


The phrase “ground disturbance” might bring to mind images of a cemetery during a zombie apocalypse, but it actually refers to a common hazard for contractors and developers who need to excavate—and face potential dangers below ground, like buried utility lines.

In December, FortisBC was proud to host and participate in the second annual British Columbia Common Ground Alliance (BCCGA) Ground Disturbance Seminar at our Surrey Operations education centre.

The seminar is all about increasing awareness of ground disturbance situations and educating professionals involved in excavation practices. This year, more than 60 industry representatives attended the day-long event, including municipalities, regulators, contractors and developers. The group learned best practices, damage prevention, and took part in an outdoor demonstration on utility line location and hydro excavation (or hydrovac), which uses pressurized water and an industrial vacuum.
 
“The forum provides information relating to diligent and compliant excavation awareness for professionals working in industries where ground disturbances is happening, each and every day,” says Suzana Prpic, Director of Corporate Emergency Management. “Our goal is that those in attendance walked away feeling that much more confident in preventing future incidents.”

Safety is a shared responsibility

As a founding member of the BCCGA, FortisBC has been a sponsor of the Ground Disturbance Seminars for almost 10 years. This year’s event featured speakers from the National Energy Board, BC One Call, Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Global Training Centre. The attendees were also given the chance to connect with vendors one-on-one at the mini trade show featuring BC One Call, WorkSafe BC, Kinder Morgan, EECOL Electric and Super Sucker (who would later demo their suction excavator).  
 
"It was great to see so many organizations and groups coming together for the common goal of safety. FortisBC is proud to have been a proud supporter of BC Common Ground Alliance since day one." Chris Hyland, Regional Manager at FortisBC and President and Chair of BC One Call.
 
The BCCGA is a non-profit organization established to lead development of consistent practices and coordination of activities to ensure the highest possible standards of worker safety, public safety and damage prevention in connection with underground infrastructure.
 
"At the BCCGA, we believe safety is a shared responsibility,” says Dr. Dave Baspaly, director of the BC Common Ground Alliance. “We appreciate everyone who came out to share information, give demonstrations and work together to continue developing safe and consistent practices."

In 2005, FortisBC formed Safety Partners – a program with the province’s utilities, municipalities and other organizations that share a commitment to the safety of British Columbians.

“By understanding the risks, everyone is able to take the appropriate safety precautions to ensure family, friends and colleagues stay safe around energy,” said FortisBC’s public safety manager, Michelle Petrusevich. “That’s why Safety Partners was created. We wanted to ensure the safety message is heard and safety is everyone’s priority – not just ours. That’s energy at work.”

Whether you’re excavating on a job site or digging in your own garden, call or click before you dig.