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.