April is Dig Safe month so it’s time for a reminder about how to dig safely at home and at work. Spring in Alberta is an especially magical time, mainly because we never truly know what kind of weather we’ll step into day to day. So, when the sun’s out, we take those opportunities to landscape and complete outdoor projects, seriously. However, rushing to break ground can have some serious consequences.

Why do we need to make all the fuss?

Because each year in Canada, damages from contact with underground utility lines cost around $1 Billion.

And because each year in our province, employers and homeowners endure fines, lost time claims, injuries, outages and fatalities, from unsafe digging. A deck or garden is not worth your life, or the hefty fine you’ll face if you interrupt utility service in your area!

What’s the solution?

Before digging in your yard or at work, you MUST obtain a utility locate. What this means: Alberta One Call will send a partner out to plant flags where are utility lines are located. They usually need about three days notice to complete this request.

Submit your request here.

If you are working for a landscaping company or a contractor, or on a farm, and are disturbing the ground in any way, you must look for those locate markings that indicate where it is safe, and unsafe to dig. If you do not see those locate markings, or you have questions about whether there should be locates, you can call Alberta One Call.

You can also speak to your supervisor about this, and refuse any work you feel is unsafe. Make sure you do not do any digging on or near the markings.

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What else can I do to practice safe digging?

  1. If you are digging outside, here are some steps you can take to keep from being injured:
  2. Wear safety gear that is appropriate for the task and environment. For instance, if it is hot outside, wear proper sun protection and clothing. Don’t wear open toed-shoes to dig.
  3. Make sure you inspect the tool you will be using, and only use it if it’s in good working condition.
  4. Keep a loaded shovel close to your body to prevent back strain.
  5. Use proper lifting techniques.
  6. Try not to twist your upper body – instead turn your whole body in the direction you want to discard your shovel contents.
  7. Keep your feet about hip distance apart for proper balance.

For more information about digging safely, visit digsafe.ca.