Underground Service Alert Training Guide
(Taken from the "Tailgate Meetings that Work : A Guide
to Effective Construction Safety Training" series)
Robin Baker, Robert
Downey, Mary Ruth Gross, Charles Reiter
Labor Occupational Health Program
(LOHP) School of Public Health,
University of California, Berkeley Ca.
talks were developed for use under California OSHA regulations. The
complete set is available from the Labor Occupational Health Program
at UC Berkeley. For ordering information, visit the website (www.lohp.org)
The American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH)
has adapted these talks to apply to federal OSHA regulations. To contact
ACGIH, visit its web site (www.acgih.org).
Before you begin the meeting...
- Does this topic
relate to the work the crew is doing? If not, choose another topic.
- Did you read
this Training Guide and fill in the blanks where the
appears? (To find the information you need, look over the Safety Walkaround
Checklist for this topic.)
excavation on a construction site accidentally hits an underground utility
line, there's more than money at stake. Your own safety is in danger,
too. A ruptured natural gas line can cause a fire or explosion. A severed
electric line can kill you.
-- electric, telephone, gas, water, and others -- may be almost anywhere
under a construction site. They were usually put in at different times,
and they are owned by different companies. How do you find them before
you dig? To prevent problems, there is a statewide telephone hotline that
contractors can call. It's called Underground Service Alert (USA). USA
will contact the utilities, who will come to the site and mark the location
of all underground lines.
the contractor or property owner to call USA before digging.
You or a crew
member may want to add a personal story about underground utilities.
with the crew where there may be underground utility hazards at this particular
ASK THE CREW THESE
After each question,
give the crew time to suggest possible answers. Use the information following
each question to add points that no one mentions.
1. How accurate
are the markings that USA makes on the ground?
- USA marks are
accurate within two feet either side of the line.
- Use caution when
you work closer than five feet to underground lines that USA
2. What do the
different colors of USA markings mean?
reclaimed water lines
Red -- electric
natural gas/liquid petroleum lines
Green -- sewer
3. How far outside
the white border lines can we dig?
4. At what depths
are different utilities found?
- You can't dig
outside the excavation border. You don't know what utility lines are
down there. The area could be unsafe. USA must mark the new area.
- There's no general
rule. It's unpredictable. Utilities are not usually placed at specific
- Digging near a
utility line presents a great danger of electric shock, pipe rupture,
or explosion. You may find that a particular utility line is six feet
deep at one location on a site, but only one foot deep just 100 yards
away. So digging must always proceed very carefully.
5. At what point
do we stop mechanical excavation and begin to excavate by hand?
- Stop mechanical
excavation when you get too close to a known underground line.
Explain: Most of
the safety measures we've talked about are required by Cal/OSHA. We have
to take these precautions -- it's the law. I have a Checklist of the Cal/OSHA
regulations on underground utilities. If you'd like to know more, see
me after the meeting.
(Only if applicable.)
Besides the Cal/OSHA regulations, we have some additional company rules
about underground utilities.
company rules: ______________________________________________
Ask: Do you have
any other concerns about underground utilities? Do you see any problems
on our job? (Let the steward answer first, if there is one.)
What about other
jobs you've worked on? Have you had any experience with underground utilities
that might help us work safer on this job?
OF THOSE WHO ATTENDED THIS SAFETY MEETING
Meetings That Work : Collection
Published in June, 1994 by: Labor Occupational Health Program, School
of Public Health, 2515 Channing Way, University of California, Berkeley,
CA 94720. Phone: (510) 642-5507.
Permission is granted to duplicate these materials for non-profit educational
purposes, provided that copies are not offered for sale.
This paper appears in the eLCOSH website with the permission of the author
and/or copyright holder and may not be reproduced without their consent.
eLCOSH is an information clearinghouse. eLCOSH and its sponsors are not
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