Midwestern Contractors Digs Planet Underground
RoundTable Live!: Bringing safety to the surface
Safety is hands on
In the world of underground construction, safety is the priority. Thanks to organizations like Planet Underground, accessibility to safe working techniques and methods has never been easier to discuss, and share within the industry. Starting out as a safety magazine in 1986, Planet Underground, known then as Underground Focus, has evolved within itself to promote underground utility damage prevention. The magazine has become a multimedia experience, combining print, digital, and video content, to illustrate safe excavation and drilling techniques.. Planet Underground will typically shoot on location at various jobs sites to capture what happens below the ground. RoundTable Live! was the first chance for vendors to be in one location to not only see what happens on other sites, but to also observe and learn from each other. Electric Conduit Construction, (ECC) and Midwestern Contractor, (MWC) were joined by over twenty other participants in Manteno, Illinois to be part of this groundbreaking event.
Solving and sharing real world problems
RoundTable is an annual event held in December hosted by Planet Underground. According to their website, over 100 participants attended the 2017 gathering. They fielded questions from the audience to give insight on their experiences managing projects and executing the work in the field. RoundTable helps attendees advance their knowledge and apply it to many different areas of construction. This year, the hosts gave members of the industry a much more hands on opportunity by hosting the first RoundTable Live! on August 9. Each sponsor sent representatives to watch, learn, and share experiences that usually are only talked about in the abstract. Underground damage prevention was the main focus of the event. An industry-wide problem that was demonstrated by ECC at RoundTable Live! was cross boring sewer lines. When a cross bore occurs the result is a live gas lined pulled back through the sewer line. When the sewer backs up and root clearing is employed the gas line is cut, releasing a steady stream of gas into the mains and the home. This has resulted in deadly explosions.
During the demonstration, ECC showed those viewing how to avoid this problem, which included new mapping systems, camera equipment, and the introduction of new locating systems that can pick-up plastic sewer lines. Giving this chance to network while seeing the crews in action was rewarding and educational for both spectators and contributors. (Not to mention, they were able to picnic on pulled pork once the work was completed.)
Staying safe is a constant challenge
So, what is the purpose of underground damage prevention? It isn’t done solely to keep the crews working on these potentially dangerous worksites safe, or even to help the public around them feel safe. A large part of these safety demonstrations is to show how protection of the existing utility infrastructures already in the ground can be done, while installing the newly updated ones. Everyday challenges in a successful project were able to not just be talked about, but demonstrated and carried out from many contributors at this brand new event. Some of these challenges include utilities that cannot be located, an overabundance (or congestion) of existing utilities, and the high priced labor and equipment that goes into uncovering those existing utilities. By bringing these vendors together at RoundTable Live!, Planet Underground was able to continue to bring awareness to:
The importance of incorporating training and safety awareness each day.
The role of new technologies for locating and seeing them in action.
The benefits of different segments of the construction industry coming together in cooperation to increase efficient, successful, and safe excavations and directional drills.
RoundTable Live! was by all accounts a success, Words were converted to action. Electric Conduit Construction and Midwestern Contractors led the way by showing that utility damage prevention is an art and science that they practice daily to keep themselves and the public safe.