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DATE: July 12, 2002

INCIDENT TYPE: Possible injury or death

LOCATION: Statewide

TYPE OF WORK ACTIVITY: Pile driving in area with underground utilities

THE ACCIDENT: During a concrete pile driving operation, a subcontractor ruptured an 8" natural gas line. The utility was shown on the plans and was intended to be relocated during construction. There were no injuries this time and PG&E was called in for repairs. There was, however, the potential for serious injury.

CONCLUSIONS: Due to various staging of the work, the fact that the line had not been relocated was overlooked. Underground Service Alert (USA) was not contacted prior to the work as is required of the contractor by contract specifications. As a result, the subcontractor hit the 8" natural gas line during a concrete pile driving operation.

RECOMMENDATIONS: It is the contractor's responsibility to take certain precautions to protect the health, safety, and welfare of workers and of the public. The contractor is required to notify the engineer and the appropriate regional notification center (USA - Northern California and Southern California 800-numbers are included in contract standard special provision 10-1.05, "Obstructions") at least two working days, but not more than 14 calendar days, prior to performing any excavation or other work close to any underground pipeline, conduit, duct, wire, or other structure. The contractor is responsible to make necessary installation or relocation arrangements with the appropriate utility company, through the Engineer, and shall submit a schedule of work, verified by a representative of the utility company, to the Engineer. The contract makes the contractor responsible for the preservation of all property involved in the project, including that which is not in sight. It is in the best interests of all parties for the engineer to be diligent in determining and pointing out the existence of all such property of which Caltrans has knowledge, especially that which is not in sight. The engineer should also verify with the contractor that USA has been called and arrangements have been made for utilities to be relocated. Engineers should refer to Standard Special Provision 10-1.05, "Obstructions" and the following sections of the Standard Specifications and the Construction Manual for guidance when working near underground utilities:

Standard Specification Section
Construction Manual Section
Preservation of Property
Utility and Non-Highway Facilities

Maintenance Program employees should always call the regional notification center for their area before any digging or excavation work. The Maintenance Manual, Volume 1, Chapter 8, Protection of Workers, Section 8.40, Working Near Utilities should also be reviewed prior to working near underground utilities. Develop and periodically review procedures to be followed if an underground utility is damaged. Electronic locators are also available in many districts for detecting underground utilities.




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