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BCCA joins forces with industry heavyweights for safety

Journal Of Commerce

The British Columbia Construction Association is joining forces with industry leaders to dig in on ground safety.

The British Columbia Construction Association is joining forces with industry leaders to dig in on ground safety.

The British Columbia Common Ground Alliance will be a non-profit organization, created to lead development of consistent practices and coordinated activity focusing on raising standards of public safety, worker safety and damage prevention in connection with underground infrastructure.

In a statement released by the BCCA, the organization outlined concerns it had heard in recent years from various contractors across British Columbia in regards to locating and marking underground facilities. Difficult regulations, illegible maps, and a lack of standard practices were all cited as problems. Additionally, the recent boom in construction activity increases the risk of hitting a gas line or another crucial underground communications link.

“British Columbia has been more fortunate than many jurisdictions in escaping a major incident causing injury or death as a result of disruption of underground infrastructure, however key stakeholders are not prepared to wait for such an incident to occur before acting,” the BCCA stated in their December newsletter.

Ten major stakeholders are involved in setting up the BC Common Ground Alliance. Industry heavy-hitters such as Terasen Gas, WorkSafe BC, the BC Safety Authority, the BC Construction Association, BC One-Call, TransCanada, Duke Energy Gas Transmission, the Alliance Pipeline, and the Union of BC Municipalities have all signed on to the program. The group, with support from the National Energy Board and others, has applied for incorporation of the non-profit society, and are working on hiring an executive director.

“We’re in the process of hiring a CEO, and once we’ve done that we’ll be up and rolling in the new year,” BCCA vice-president Abigail Fulton said.

In the alliance’s first year of operation, the executive director is expected to develop a clear statement of best practices for British Columbia for mapping, planning and design, infrastructure identification, location and marking, excavation, compliance, public and worker education, and reporting and evaluation.

Fulton said the push for a common ground alliance in BC came from the BCCA’s members, who had been expressing concern over liabilities in current regulations surrounding digging. A need for common practices across the industry was also cited as an important consideration.

“All the utilities were not there when it came to BC One-Call, and this was a way to get them on board,” Fulton said.

Financial support for the Alliance will come from sponsorship and membership. Any individual or organization can join the Alliance, but arrangements for sponsorship will be available at various levels, with packages of benefits currently being developed.

The BCCGA is affiliated with the Common Ground Alliance in the United States, as well as similar partner groups in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta.

“In Canada, it’s a fairly recent development to form these alliances, but the American common ground alliance has been around for quite a while,” Fulton said.

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