It happens on nearly every job site we mobilize to. When a technician arrives at the site, they meet with their site contact to get information on the proposed project, and they’re shown the scope of work to be scanned. After the meeting with the site contact, the technician is left to begin their utility investigation of the area of interest (for the purpose of this post, we’ll call it a 500 sq ft area).
The technician begins to walk the area of interest to get a sense of utilities that may be present in the area. The technician takes note of surface features (equipment installed at grade level that indicate underground utilities are present) within the area; fire hydrants, water valves, transformers, light poles, etc. The technician then performs electromagnetic scans to designate all of the utilities within the 500 sq ft. All surface features within the area have been accounted for. All associated utilities have been marked running outside of the area of interest. The technician knows this is only the beginning of their investigation. They were told the area where work was to be performed was only 500 sq ft, but how far out of scope do they need to investigate? How big is this job scope, really? 750 sq ft? 1000 sq ft?
The technician notices a series of light poles about 200 ft from their box and decides to investigate. They discover these light poles are connected together, and trace the power feed backwards and sure enough, it runs right through the middle of their initial scan area. This power feed does not give off enough power to be picked up through passive scans. Due to ground and site conditions, split box scans and GPR scans, wouldn’t have been able to detect this feed. The only way the technician was able to find this feed was due to his due diligence, to travel outside of his scope to ensure nothing else ran through it. Unfortunately, the technician doesn’t have x-ray vision, so they must be willing to investigate utilities outside of their scope of work, so at the end of the day, they can say with confidence they performed a thorough utility designation. Sometimes that means taking a 500 sq ft area and actually investigating a 750 or even a 1000 sq ft area.
At Trinity Subsurface, we recognize the importance of accounting for utilities outside of the intended scope of work. This is part of our 7 steps to utility locating. If the 7 steps are followed on every investigation, we consider this a thorough scan. There have been plenty of instances where a client has asked a technician a question like “Why are you scanning here, my work is being performed over there”. We simply explain that this is part of the scan, and scanning out here will ensure our final results are accurate at the end of the investigation. Once they learn that we are doing our due diligence, this helps ease their mind and they know the technician is doing everything possible to give them the information they need to excavate safely and efficiently.