Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 48

Thread: Hand dig distance

  1. #1
    Senior Member ProfessionalLocator's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    2,305
    Years of Experience
    20
    Rep Power
    102

    Default Hand dig distance

    A question before my comments, at what distance from a marking is an excavator permitted to power dig in your state / jurisdiction?

    In Maryland there is more than one distance from a mark an excavator permitted to power dig. Within the required distance from a mark an excavator must hand dig.

    In most places in Maryland an excavator must hand dig within 18" of a utility marking.

    The exception is Montgomery County which requires and digging only within 36" of a utility marking.

    I have always had the thought that the 18" requirement was inherently unsafe and contrary to the purpose of the call before you dig laws.

    The main issue of the 18" requirement is plastic gas lines. Here the line itself is not locatable by most common methods. The only way to find and mark it is by the tracer wire buried with the pipe. But the wire is not attached to the pipe, it is just laid in the trench. Because it is just laid in the trench the wire can be on one side of the trench and the pipe on the other. I was told that this was okay becasue the blade with of the backhoes that dig these trenches is only 16". Direct observation by myself is that the digging blade / bucket with varies greatly as they use whatever is available. Often I find trenches 2 feet (24") wide which means the gas line and tracer wire can be 24" apart, 6" beyond the laws tolerance.

    An organization of professional locators could present such and argument to the jurisdictions legislatures to change hand digging distance to eliminate the inherent danger like in current Maryland law. This would take more than testimony as it would have to be accompanied by photographic evidence and a formal report.

    The 18" distance exists because the excavators have their own associations and lobbyists. The purpose of these lobbyists and associations is to increase the profits of the excavators, not increase public safety. So there will be no organized push to change such dangerous regulations as I have pointed out exist in Maryland. If those that represent excavators could convince the Maryland legislature to reduce the tolerance to 6" they would.

    So back to the opening question; at what distance from a marking is an excavator permitted to power dig in your state / jurisdiction?

  2. #2
    Moderator Goldenboy's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,308
    Years of Experience
    18
    Rep Power
    65

    Default Re: Hand dig distance

    In Wisconsin we get an 18 inch tolerance.

    I had started a thread a few years ago about this and was trying to get all 50 states down. I bumped my post to see if we can continue it now that there are alot more member here.

  3. #3
    Senior Member ProfessionalLocator's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    2,305
    Years of Experience
    20
    Rep Power
    102

    Default Re: Hand dig distance

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldenboy View Post
    In Wisconsin we get an 18 inch tolerance.

    I had started a thread a few years ago about this and was trying to get all 50 states down. I bumped my post to see if we can continue it now that there are alot more member here.
    In your opinion is 18" hand dig distance from a mark safe for plastic gas lines with tracer wire or should it be 24" or 36"?

  4. #4
    Senior Member AULupstate's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    969
    Rep Power
    48

    Default Re: Hand dig distance

    NY is 2' each side of center line (supposedly on ALL utilities). An excavator can use machines to break through concrete (or asphalt) but after that it's 'Goon Spoons' ONLY.

    Does it happen ALL the time as it should? NO!!!!!!!

    But that is what pictures and documentation are for!

  5. #5
    Mke
    Mke is offline
    Senior Member Mke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Republic of Washington
    Posts
    1,536
    Years of Experience
    16
    Blog Entries
    34
    Rep Power
    77

    Default Re: Hand dig distance

    Oregon, and Washington it is 2' from Paint, and 5' from structure.

    However, I think there should be some common sense used here. Where i'm at, we are mostly on Dredge sand, and you can safely (depending on the Hoe opporator) dig down and uncover all utilities without damage.

    I believe, that the Cusion should be set by the Utility being excavated. For example, If I have a Storm line down 12 feet, there is no reason to make the excavator hand dig near my paint........Unless he's an a$$.

    There is a couple of cables that come to mind, that I know are encased in concrete, but are important enough, I have them excavate up to about 2 feet, then hand excavate up to the side walls. If they are going under, they need to prevent any settling of the duct.

    As far as having a standard depth, the buckets they use are not standard, so if you used 2ft as a guide, and they used a 3' bucket, you have 12'' not covered. If you leave the the tolerence flexible, they tend to be cautious when you warn them sternly.

    The one piece of equipment I tend to watch out for is the Auger. I don't let Power Augers within 5' of utilities, because i've seen augers meander closer to the utility.

    mke

  6. #6
    Senior Member yahoo's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Louisiana
    Posts
    3,908
    Years of Experience
    15
    Rep Power
    167

    Default Re: Hand dig distance

    18 inches here and 24 for duct runs
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

  7. #7
    Moderator Goldenboy's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,308
    Years of Experience
    18
    Rep Power
    65

    Default Re: Hand dig distance

    Quote Originally Posted by ProfessionalLocator View Post
    In your opinion is 18" hand dig distance from a mark safe for plastic gas lines with tracer wire or should it be 24" or 36"?

    Where I locate if the gas/water main is bigger than 3" we write the size on the ground and we get the extra inches in our tolerance. So if you mark a 16 inch gas main you get an extra eight inches on each side along with your original 18 inches. So on the 16 inch gas main the tolerance would be 26 inches on each side of the mark. This way on the bigger mains if the tracer wire is off to one side it really shouldn't matter with getting the extra room.

    I do know what you are talking about with the tracer wire. In theory we are responsible for marking the tracer wire and if a damage happens that is where our measurement are taken from.

    If a contractor is sloppy and just lays the tracer wire in a wide trench and it is a foot away from the actual main there is nothing I can do about that. I locate the tracer wire not the plastic main.

  8. #8
    Senior Member ProfessionalLocator's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    2,305
    Years of Experience
    20
    Rep Power
    102

    Default Re: Hand dig distance

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldenboy View Post

    Where I locate if the gas/water main is bigger than 3" we write the size on the ground and we get the extra inches in our tolerance. So if you mark a 16 inch gas main you get an extra eight inches on each side along with your original 18 inches. So on the 16 inch gas main the tolerance would be 26 inches on each side of the mark. This way on the bigger mains if the tracer wire is off to one side it really shouldn't matter with getting the extra room.

    I do know what you are talking about with the tracer wire. In theory we are responsible for marking the tracer wire and if a damage happens that is where our measurement are taken from.

    If a contractor is sloppy and just lays the tracer wire in a wide trench and it is a foot away from the actual main there is nothing I can do about that. I locate the tracer wire not the plastic main.
    Yes, we can only mark the tracer wire on a plastic gas line. As another poster pointed out the trench could easily be as much as three feet wide.

    So If the tracer wire is on one side of a 24" wide trench and the plastic gas line is on the other side of the trench the mark will be off by 24". Now here in Maryland where most digs, except Montgomery County, must hand dig within 18" so if they power dig and hit such a plastic gas line that is 24" from the tracer wire the locate company is at fault.

    Off hand I think 36" is the safe distance for legislation to adopt.

    While this certainly applies to plastic gas lines it also should apply to the other types of utilities but I think that should be a different thread just to keep this one coherent.

  9. #9
    Moderator Goldenboy's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,308
    Years of Experience
    18
    Rep Power
    65

    Default Re: Hand dig distance

    The tracer wire is required to be taped to the main out here in an open trench and when it is bored it is obviously right with the main.

  10. #10
    Senior Member FiosKing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Way North
    Posts
    254
    Years of Experience
    100
    Rep Power
    20

    Default Re: Hand dig distance

    36 for all
    "What Are You Doin!?!? GET THE HELL OFF MY LAWN!"
    you have entered a restricted area

  11. #11
    Junior Member skwardog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    J Hoffa's Swamp
    Posts
    28
    Rep Power
    10

    Default

    In New Jersey it is 24" each side of paint mark and you get the added inches for the width of the utility.

    In Vermont marking standards require you mark the utility corridor edges, so you can make it as wide as you want within reason (supposed to be 18" plus the width of the utility).
    Last edited by skwardog; February 13th, 2010 at 03:07 AM.

  12. #12
    Senior Member ProfessionalLocator's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    2,305
    Years of Experience
    20
    Rep Power
    102

    Default Re: Hand dig distance

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldenboy View Post
    The tracer wire is required to be taped to the main out here in an open trench and when it is bored it is obviously right with the main.
    Is this a requirement of the gas company that you locate for or is it mandated by law / regulation across the entire jurisdiction?

    When did legislation require this procedure in your jurisdiction and how many feet / miles/ meters of these lines are still in the ground that were installed prior to such legislation?

    If there is old installation from prior to such legislation then you still need the larger distance from the marks, my suggestion is 36".


    I do not mean to be a pain in the butt, just covering all the bases.

  13. #13
    Member animal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    around
    Posts
    81
    Years of Experience
    15+
    Rep Power
    13

    Default Re: Hand dig distance

    wires are not to be taped to gas mains or services anymore because it could conduct electricity get hot then melt the pipe causing a leak

    the shortest hand dig rule should be 2 feet then plus the size of what ever is marked

    for installs on small pipes that they used a bucket over a foot wide it should be noted on the print and that should also get added to the locate marks for the size of the utility line

  14. #14
    Senior Member ProfessionalLocator's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    2,305
    Years of Experience
    20
    Rep Power
    102

    Default Re: Hand dig distance

    Quote Originally Posted by animal View Post
    wires are not to be taped to gas mains or services anymore because it could conduct electricity get hot then melt the pipe causing a leak

    the shortest hand dig rule should be 2 feet then plus the size of what ever is marked

    for installs on small pipes that they used a bucket over a foot wide it should be noted on the print and that should also get added to the locate marks for the size of the utility line
    I have to disagree with noting the size of the pipe and making the distance in part dependent on this. An error on the drawings where the size is noted can result in insufficient clearance. Perhaps the greatest problem is the paint noting the size gets disturbed and is gone or is cannot be clearly read. For example a 5" can be mistaken for a 3", only two inches but there none the less.

    I would prefer conduit type marks with a dot over the signal and then a line the diameter of the pipe to either side of the marks.

    __
    -
    __


    Then the excavator just and digs within 36" of any of those paint marks.
    I do not think things should be too complicated, require a lot of math on the excavators part. Here are the marks and hand dig only within the designated distance of those marks.

  15. #15
    Mke
    Mke is offline
    Senior Member Mke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Republic of Washington
    Posts
    1,536
    Years of Experience
    16
    Blog Entries
    34
    Rep Power
    77

    Default Re: Hand dig distance

    I think the best Rule of thumb would be to Let the excavator know of any field conditions that might require a more cautious shovel.

    I have seen the extended paint marks abused quite a bit. I have seen duct marks 5' wide to cover a single conduit crossing. Like wise with other utilities. Besides, Even though the "law book" has rules in there covering most of everything, they are not always followed.

    Here in Oregon, it is required by law to mark abandoned utilities....... you wanna guess how many locators actually located abandoned utilities?

    The utilities don't understand that if there is incorrect labeling on utilities, that opens the locator, and the facilitator of the maps to liability. For example, if you mark a cable a 200pr, and the crew comes accross a 100pr it shouldn't be an issue, but if it is marked a 200pr, and during the excavating they damaged a 100pr......guess who's going to say that the 100pr isn't marked? This goes with labeling abandoned lines as well. I have seen more "abandoned" cables cause issue. 6" abandoned gas line....... turned out to be an abandoned Fuel line which was not properly drained back in the 40's when it was decomissioned.

    I vote for 2' unless stated otherwise by the utility represenative.

    mke

Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •