Safety Information

Aches and pains of COVID-19 spread across safe digging spectrum

Everyone in Florida has been touched in some way by COVID-19 (Coronavirus). And if you’re in the excavation, utility or locating industry, you too are being impacted by this pandemic.

Some of you may be reducing staff or even moving employees to work from home, impacting available resources at any given time, to get a job done. This could impact a utility company’s ability to respond to locate tickets in a timely manner, others may declare Extraordinary Circumstances, and excavators may not be able to start or complete jobs.

Whatever a utility company’s situation, please ensure that you and your excavating staff continue following the provisions in Chapter 556, Florida Statutes. Here are some key points to help you navigate through the Coronavirus’ effects on your business:

  • If you can no longer perform your excavation project, cancel your locate ticket by calling 811. Internet Ticket Entry (ITE) users can cancel tickets online.

  • If your job is in process and you need to stop work, remember to check the due date on the ticket to ensure that it is not expired before beginning excavation again. If your ticket has expired, please call 811 to renew your ticket. ITE users can renew tickets online.

  • If a utility company declares extraordinary circumstances, you will see code 3T on your Positive Response Summary. Callers will be told of the declaration during the call. Continue following the normal procedures specified in Chapter 556, F.S., such as waiting two full business days, following low impact marking and high-priority subsurface installation requirements, and checking the Positive Response System.

  • If the two full business days pass and underground facilities are not located or there is no positive response update provided, contact the utility directly using the information on your ticket. Section 556.105(6)(a) allows excavation to proceed if the excavator does so with reasonable care and if detection equipment or other acceptable means to locate underground facilities are used. There is no time limit on extraordinary circumstances.

  • For additional safety, consider hiring a private locate company to locate and mark both public and private underground facilities at your job site. There are several listed on our associate member page. Simply click “Locating” under Tag Category.

Sunshine 811 Staffing Update

Sunshine 811 takes the health and well-being of its staff seriously and have some of our employees already working at home. We’re working to get a larger portion of the workforce also moved home. Rest assured, we are still taking calls! But given work-at-home situations, hold times might be a little longer than normal. Internet Ticket Entry will continue to function as normal and you can create tickets online anytime and anywhere you have internet.

Sunshine 811 Education and Event Update

It’s uncertain how long these measures will need to be taken. For the safety of our stakeholders and employees, we have cancelled our events and will not be attending industry meetings. If you have questions about the process or would like to schedule a web conference or teleconference, please visit our Damage Prevention Liaison webpage and contact the liaison for your county.

Helpful Links and Information

https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html

The most recent recommendations from Florida can be found at: http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/COVID-19/index.html

EXCAVATORS: Local, federal law require call to 911 when pipeline damaged

Damaging pipelines carries its own set of risks.State and federal require a call to 911 when there is a pipeline release. PHMSA may also place maximum civil penalties of $209,002 per violation per day with a maximum of $2,090,022 for any related series of violations on any Florida excavators who damage their regulated pipelines.

5 things excavators must do to make the Positive Response System work for them

I want to share a recent experience with you. I was on a conference call, listening to an excavator and locator talk through their experiences with the call-before-you-dig process. There was the usual he said she said, but then we got to the heart of the issue. Communication…or lack thereof.

So, they talked some more. The result? A better understanding of the “other side” and solutions moving forward. Listening to the whole process unfold, I couldn’t help but jot down a few takeaways that could be helpful for all excavators.

Check out these five tips to get the most out of positive response by effectively combining it with good old-fashioned communication:

  1. Verify the positive response codes BEFORE the end of two full business days. If a code says unmarked or has special instructions, do what is required. The locator could be waiting on clarification of the marking instructions, access to the property, white lining, etc. During this call, we learned that the gated community didn’t allow gate code sharing. If that’s the case where you’re working, let the locator know what number to contact so they can get their own gate code.
  2. Make sure the in-field phone number you provided during ticket entry is for someone a locate technician can text or call to ask a question, reschedule or set up another arrangement. It’s important for this number to have a functioning mailbox that is not full and is checked frequently. Due to the sheer ticket volume locators carry, if they cannot reach you, they will move on to the next job.
  3. Always, ALWAYS, compare the codes to what you see at your job site.
    Example: Let’s say you arrive at the job site and see marks for communications, but the response summary says there should also be marks for electric. What? Was the wrong job site marked? Were the red marks destroyed? You won’t have any answers until you call the locator or utility.
  4. Verify the codes periodically using the positive response link at sunshine811.com. This gives you the most updated information and includes locator/utility comments. This is especially important if a utility changes a code at any time throughout the life of the ticket. If you notice a change, and even if you don’t, you may want to take a screen shot of the response summary for your documentation.
  5. Save any positive response emails that come directly from a utility. These companies are using a system that does not update to the Sunshine 811 online positive response comments.

For education on the Positive Response System, contact the Sunshine 811 damage prevention liaison for your county.

Prevent heat illness when working in Florida's heat, humidity

Heat-related illnesses can be deadly.  Thousands become sick every year and many die due to preventable, heat-related illnesses.  With summer temperatures rising, now is the best time to prepare for working outdoors in excessive heat by following a few simple steps.

HEAT-RELATED ILLNESS: KNOW THE SIGNS

It's important to know the signs of heat-related illness—acting quickly can prevent more serious medical conditions and may even save lives.

  • Heat Stroke is the most serious heat-related illness and requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms include: confusion, fainting, seizures, very high body temperature and hot, dry skin or profuse sweating. CALL 911 if a co-worker shows signs of heat stroke.
  • Heat Exhaustion is also a serious illness. Symptoms include: headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, thirst and heavy sweating. Heat fatigue and heat rash are less serious, but they are still signs of too much heat exposure.

If you or a co-worker has symptoms of heat-related illness, tell your supervisor right away. If you can, move the person to a shaded area, loosen his/her clothing, give him/her water (a little at a time), and cool him/her down with ice packs or cool water.

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TO PREVENT HEAT ILLNESS: WATER.REST.SHADE. 

  • Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you are not thirsty. 
  • Rest in the shade to cool down.
  • Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.
  • Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.
  • Keep an eye on fellow workers.

Acclimate – "easy does it" on your first days of work; be sure to get used to the heat and allow yourself to build up a tolerance. Not being used to the heat is a big problem. Many of the people who died from heat stress were either new to working in the heat or returning from a break. Workers that have not worked in hot weather for a week or more need time to adjust to the heat again.

This is OSHA’s fifth year implementing its Heat-Illness Prevention Campaign. Consider making this a topic during your safety meetings or hold a Safety Stand Down on the warning signs of heat illness. Check out OSHA's Training Resources page for handouts, videos and more.

Stay safe during the hot weather.