Professional projects that involve ground disturbance are challenging given the need to stay on time and on budget – all while managing various risks.

It goes without saying: failing to anticipate and deal with risk factors can negatively impact your project’s timeline and profitability, which is why risk management is key to any successful project. And that’s what safe digging best practices are all about: decreasing or eliminating risks.

Increasingly, Excavators are Leveraging BC 1 Call 

Clicking or calling BC 1 Call ahead of breaking ground is now a well-established safe digging best practice in B.C. Here’s the proof:

  • 26 education/training partners now include use of BC 1 Call in profession training courses
  • Job opportunities increasingly require a commitment to use BC 1 Call before disturbing the ground
  • An ever-increasing number of professional contractors are registered as BC 1 Call users
  • More locate request tickets than ever are being submitted by professional contractors

BC 1 Call Members may require use of our service 

89% of respondents to our 2021 Member Survey stated that they have policies or procedures requiring contractors to use BC 1 Call. We also know of some large non-members who also impose this requirement.

Growth in Registered Contractor Users 

  • Contractor Users as of Jan 1, 2020: 11,724
  • 2020 Contractor User growth: 8,525 new users (73% increase)
  • Contractor Users as of September 30, 2021: 26,041 
  • 2021 YTD Contract User growth: 5,380 new users (26% increase)

Growth in Locate Requests placed by Contractor Users (2018-2021)

Year Locate Requests % of Total LR’s
2021* 121,480 YTD (as of Sept 30) 64%
2020 132,282 62%
2019 116,980 58%
2018 113,293 57%
*2021 is on pace to be the highest year ever for contractor locate requests

We’d like to extend a special shoutout to professional excavators who click or call BC 1 Call before digging. Thank you for embracing this safe digging best practice!

Unnecessary Risks are still being taken

Despite significant increases in registered users of BC 1 Call and in the number of locate requests submitted, damage incidents are still high – unnecessarily so.

TELUS, a founding BC 1 Call member and shareholder, says damage incidents as at September 30, 2021 have already surpassed the total number for all of 2020 by almost 25%. These damage incidents are avoidable.

According to the last Damage Incident Reporting Tool of the Canadian Common Ground Alliance (i.e. the 2019 DIRT Report):

  • 55% of all reported damages in B.C. involved a failure to request a locate ticket with BC 1 Call, an 11% increase over 2018.

*Note that the construction sector was cited as most often involved in reported damage incidents in B.C., with a year over year increase of 136%.

Data provided by two of our member-shareholders confirm this picture:

  • FortisBC advises that 70% of damage incidents are caused by professional contractors; and that 60% of those incidents involved a failure to use BC 1 Call.
  • BC Hydro advises that 63% of damage incidents are caused by contractors.

Unfortunate Consequences 

Professional excavators who fail to use BC 1 Call and follow our member’s instructions invite both repair costs and project delays. The average bill passed on to a contractor who damages BC Hydro infrastructure is over $5,000, with some bills exceeding $100,000.

In addition to repair costs, excavators can also face project delays based on WorkSafeBC work stop orders or repair work schedules, as well as reputational damage should a community service disruption make the local news.

Are Zero Hits Possible?

Yes! As the result of its membership in BC 1 Call, and requiring all contractors to use our service before disturbing the ground, Trans Mountain and Enbridge each had zero hits to their pipelines in 2020 by professional excavators.

So far this year, Trans Mountain continues its sterling record of zero hits, and Enbridge has had only one – the unfortunate result of a professional excavator failing to contact BC 1 Call before digging.

We’re Not There Yet

While these damage incident records are stellar, according to FortisBC’s estimate, damage incidents in our communities could be reduced by ~90% if BC 1 Call was used consistently prior to breaking ground.

Call to Action: Join the BC 1 Call Community!

Get connected – even if you don’t actually place locate requests:

  • If your role involves placing locate requests, register as a user, by completing a BC 1 Call user profile here
    • Be sure to sign up for BC 1 Call communications by checking the opt-in box in your user profile
  • If your role does not require you to have a user id or submit locate requests, stay connected by subscribing to our communications here

Step 1 - Submit your BC 1 Call Locate Request Ticket

Digging safely has never been easier: requesting a locate with BC 1 Call is 100% free of charge, and you can do it online 24/7 at bc1c.ca or by phone at 1-800-474-6886 (toll-free) during contact centre hours.

Please plan ahead: our members require 3 business days to process your request and provide you with the maps and instructions to help you dig safely.

Learn more about BC 1 Call’s service, including emergency requests, on our Contractors’ page.

Step 2 - Check Instructions provided by our Members notified of your request

On submission of your request, BC 1 Call will immediately notify all members that have underground infrastructure in the dig site you have identified. You will then receive an email from BC 1 Call with your assigned ticket number and a list of members that have been notified of your request.

Each member company will respond to your request within three working days excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Members will provide one or more of the following:

  • Site plans of their underground services showing the location on or near your site
  • Physical surface markings by sending a representative to your site
  • Digging instructions and other relevant safety information

Step 3 - Expose the Buried Infrastructure

Expose the underground line, pipe or cable you have been advised of to find its exact location, and enable safe digging.

Learn more about hand exposure on our blog post “Dig Safe Tips - Hand Exposure 101.”

Learn more about Safe Excavation

On our Education & Safety Tips page, you’ll find several resources to learn more about how to safely tackle your excavation projects and use BC 1 Call’s software, including instructions translated to Punjabi and Simplified Chinese!

You can also consider signing up for a professional development course to brush up on your skills in safe excavation practices. Visit our Education Partners’ websites and look for a course that best fits your needs!