Why does it matter?
Technological advances have revolutionized nearly every major industry with benefits ranging from safety to convenience. Unfortunately, technology has not been fully utilized in the excavation industry, which is the leading cause of pipeline incidents in the U.S.
Because excavation laws are written and enforced on a state by state level, technological advances are slow to catch on. One state may take a critical step in the right direction, but that still leaves 49 more right where we started.
Fortunately, significant improvements in GPS technologies, digital mapping technologies, and mobile device applications in recent years provide an opportunity to improve the process by allowing more precise identification of underground utilities and better communication amongst parties. Some states have already started to explore how technology and improved communications practices can be used to improve their excavation damage protection programs.
We created this stoplight report card to help track which states, through their laws and regulations, use up-to-date technologies to enhance communications practices by ensuring all of the necessary information is shareable, and available for on-site quality control.
What Does the Report Card Measure?
The report card is based on an in-depth analysis of every state’s damage prevention statutes, as well as the implementing regulations in any states that have them. The analysis is focused on how states do or do not use technology to address three key safety metrics:
The intent of this report card is not to be used as a tool for criticizing state programs. Its purpose instead, is to shine a light on states that are moving in the right direction and to draw attention to areas where all states could improve their laws, regulations, and best practices.
How well is your state incorporating new technologies into pipeline safety laws? Let us know what you think. Better yet, let your state and federal representatives know what you think.