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Thread: Who's Fault is it?

  1. #1
    Mke
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    Default Who's Fault is it?

    Same contractor from my blog post had a "Near miss" on a 12.5kv line. The contractor feels that it is not his fault and I'm curious what the consensus is for this situation.

    Job: Boring in (2) 4" conduits across a street into a parking lot.

    Background: Contractor wanted to work start the bore on January 15th. They originally called the ticket in on December 21st. Due to a winter storm, there was constant rain for most of the time. I advised the contractor that they need to call in a new ticket in order to work in that area. They called in the ticket on January 15th @ 11:45am. Monday was a state holiday. The ticket is due on January 20th at 11:45am. We went out to the site on Tuesday to mark our utilities and advised the crew that the Public locators still needed to mark. We went back out on Wednesday the 20th and walked them through the site with them again concentrating on our important utilities, which include a fiber run and a 26" Glycol line.

    @ 11:45 they proceeded to bore.

    @1:30pm the local power company had employees in the area checking on locates for inside our secured facility fence. They were asked at that time to take a look at the location of the bore and found that their primary was unmarked. They located the area for the bore and had the crew pothole down to view the conduits. Their bore missed the Feeder by <6" .

    upon this discovery it came to light that the boring contractor contacted the utilities on the One-call ticket to verify that they have responded. He states that when he called the power company they told them that Locating Inc. (contract locating company) was responsible for the marking of the primary. When the contractor called Locating Inc. They affirmed that they locate for The power company in question. The locating inc tech who responded to the ticket was under the understanding that the Power company was the one responsible for marking the utility in the area of the bore.

    To confuse the issue even further, there was faded marks around the area of the near miss. All of which is flourecent Red (the color used by the Power company). Locating inc uses plain ole fashion red.

    I'm curious on who you guys think is responsible for the near miss and how you think it can be prevented.

    We typically catch things like this, but due to poor coordination on the part of the contractor we were not able to perform our customary site walk after all the public locators have responded. On this final walk, we are the ones that bring any utility owned facilities that may not have paint or are unlocateable and the paint is just an approximate to their attention.

    On a side note, how much old paint is necessary to be sufficient to be enough to say that the area was previously marked and should of been noticed? (I will try to share a photo of the old paint next to the new paint)

    mke


    powermark.jpg

    You can see the faded paint between the gas mark and the fresh flo red paint. This mark was within 8' of the bore.

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    Member Kramit69's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who's Fault is it?

    Having been involved in many damage investigations and claims, it would depend on the specific language in the contract between Locating Inc and the local utility as who is responsible to locate the area. Other than that, it looks like the local utility did the first locate with the florescent red (the color used by the local power company) and not the contract locator. They (local power company) should have followed up on the second ticket to locate if they were not going to respond. The contract locating firm should have done the same. I know I would. Faded marks should have been a red flag for the boring crew if seen. Also pictures of the original locate could prove to be a factor if available.

    After hearing you testimonial I would expect.
    50% Locating Inc at fault.
    50% local power company at fault.

    Unless the contract between the two says otherwise.
    Last edited by Kramit69; January 22nd, 2016 at 09:01 PM.

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    Default Re: Who's Fault is it?

    Could have been prevented with some communication between Locating Inc and the power company. One simple phone call.

    JMO.
    Last edited by Kramit69; January 22nd, 2016 at 09:08 PM.

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    Default Re: Who's Fault is it?

    Time had elapsed for edit.

    If I had received a negative response from both the power co. and the contract locator, I would not have continued excavation. More phone calls would have been made.

    In my state would that make the excavator responsible? Probably not.
    Last edited by Kramit69; January 22nd, 2016 at 09:23 PM.

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    Senior Member Wingfoot's Avatar
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    Default Who's Fault is it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mke View Post
    1.) The local power company had employees check the locates inside our secured facility fence. They found their primary was unmarked and had the crew pothole to view the conduits. The bore missed the Feeder by <6" .

    2.) The boring contractor contacted the utilities on the One-call ticket to verify that they have responded. Locating Inc. affirmed that they locate for The power company in question. The locating inc tech who responded to the ticket was under the understanding that the Power company was the one responsible for marking the utility in the area of the bore.

    3.) There was faded Locating Inc marks around the area of the near miss. Fluorescent Red is the color used by the Power company.

    4.) Who do you guys think is responsible for the near miss and how you think it can be prevented.

    5.) How much old paint is necessary to be sufficient to be enough to say that the area was previously marked and should of been noticed?


    The faded paint is between the gas mark and the fresh fluorescent red paint.
    Greetings Mke!

    1.) I call a "near miss" a whacked utility as opposed to a "near hit;" a utility line that has been spared a whacking. So, I am assuming your "near miss" by <6 inches is a bore head/reamer that dug into the 12.5kv line by <6" and crushed/broke the conduit(s) with no outages. Hence the question, "Who's at fault?"

    2.) It appears to be the Locating Inc locator may have notified the power company their high profile 12.5kv was being crossed by a boring company in an area that was secured. That may be the reason the crew appeared 2 hours after the boring began.

    3. & 5.) The one-call rules in my state has a clause about mandatory Renewals when old paint is not visible. Paint that can only be seen by the locator who initially laid it (as in your example) is NOT visible paint. Although, any locator with tenure has, at some point in their career, highlighted weaker paint than shown here as accurately marked at damage time.................... just sayin'.

    4.) Too many unanswered questions to make a definitive call on this one.

    Locator at-fault if: The bore route is known by the locator and the locator leaves utilities unmarked in a secured area without telling anyone. It looks like the locator assumed the power company would paint their own utilities in the secured area and didn't tell the excavator about any unmarked lines.

    Excavator at-fault if: Walks into a secured area of a sub-station, or a secured area with visible transformers, sectionalizers, dips, handholes or manholes and no visible paint. Excavators can only play dumb up to a point. Paint on the outside of a secured area; no paint in a secured area = call in a Bad Locate ticket. Still, the locator would be at-fault on this scenario because no attempt was make to notify the excavator he/she needs access to the secured area to complete the locate.

    I agree with Kramit69. Communication is the answer. Just a simple telephone call cures many ills.


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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    Premium Member daman1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who's Fault is it?

    It sounds like at the point they began boring, the contractor had reason to believe that there were unmarked facilities in the area. They just decided to dig anyways. They had prior positive contact with the utility and the 811 locator about a line they knew of needing marks. Even if there were no old marks I think it can be reasonably declared that the contractor had that knowledge. When you know there are buried lines in an area, you put your damned shovel down and get on the phone until you get your marks.
    My guess is that, had a damage actually occurred, Locating inc. would agree to a partial payout to avoid litigation but that depends on the cost of the repair. They need to get it figured out who is responsible to mark the electric lines before someone gets hurt.

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    Default Re: Who's Fault is it?

    I work for Locating Inc in Salem and we actually have an agreement with PGE in the core of the city itself. Any power inside the core of the city is to be marked by the PGE special testers themselves. I covered that area for 3 years and frequently PGE would be late or never mark the power in the core until we called them because the contractor called us angry that they had no power marks. Not sure where your situation is located but that's what I dealt with all them time in downtown.

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    Default Re: Who's Fault is it?

    So this is a secure facility your company owns? Why is there no set of procedures and protocols? Do you have authority to shut down contractors?

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    Senior Member yahoo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who's Fault is it?

    the person digging is at fault . who will pay in the end ??? a judge will follow the law for the most part and decide who will pay or whose fault it is .
    daman1 likes this.
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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