Jobsite Inspection

Jobsite Inspection: Checking the Marks


The marks at your jobsite, and how you interpret them, can make or break your safety. The most important thing you can do is compare the marks to your positive response codes. There can be some obvious signs of something wrong.

Do the Marks Match What You See?

Let's say you arrive at the work site and see marks for communications, but from positive response you learned there should also be marks for electric.

Why would this happen?

  • The locator could have misunderstood the marking instructions and marked the wrong place within your work site.
  • A completely different work site was marked.
  • It could also mean that the marks were destroyed before you got to the work site.
  • Maybe kids or vandals pulled up the flags.

These are all possibilities and you shouldn't begin until you've done some checking. In the situation mentioned in the first paragraph, the best thing to do is contact the electric company.

Identifying Properly Placed Marks

When flags and paint are used together, flags are usually placed within the borders of the paint mark. If you find flags set away from the paint mark, they may have been tampered with. Once again, if something doesn't look right to you, STOP and check it out. A call to the facility owner may be necessary.

The following pictures show proper paint and flag placement.


NEVER assume that "no marks" at the work site means "no lines."

Others have, particularly when other facility marks are visible within the work site. This incorrect interpretation can result in a damage or worse, injuries and death.

In the left photo below there are no locate marks. The excavator assumed that meant no lines were present. It was the wrong assumption to make. Make sure you check the positive response system and verify, verify, verify the lines that are present.


Jobsite Inspection: When Marks are Missing


It's always a good idea to take a look around your work site before digging. Make sure that what you see is reflected in the Positive Response System codes. If something doesn't look right to you, STOP and check it out. You can never be too safe.

During site inspection, you should also look for depressions in the ground that are not marked. They may be signs of an old facility. Any utility contractor can tell stories of discovering things that are not marked or don't show up on any map. Use your detective skills.


If you're working near a gas pipeline, the following situations could indicate a gas leak. Contact the gas pipeline owner. Digging into this could create a life-threatening condition.