Step number Five of our ground disturbance safe is: Exposure; we need to determine the extent and method of hand exposure prior to mechanical excavation. What is exposure? “The physical exposure of underground facilities using non-destructive excavation techniques that are acceptable to the owner of the buried facility.” Once the locating and marking of the facilities within the excavation and surrounding area are complete, the physical work of exposing the buried facilities begins. The ground disturber must determine the extent and method of hand exposure prior to mechanical excavation. This understanding is vital to the success of the work process and needs to be communicated at the site level.
Prior to the exposure of the buried facility, the ground disturber must ensure that all the appropriate approvals are in place. These approvals may be specific crossing agreements or ground disturbance permits, but they may also be in the general form of a work permit. Please note that the applicable permit (s) must be issued and signed off by the facility owner, operations personnel or the ground disturbance supervisor (if authorized) to the company or personnel doing the work, before work commences.
Hand Exposure Zones: there are three different legislative hand exposure zones or distances. These zones or distances are based on the type of facilities the ground disturber is working around.
The hand exposure zones or distances are as follows:
For NEB regulated pipelines, the hand exposure zone is 3m (10 ft.), for pipelines, the hand exposure zone is 5m (15 ft.) and for all other types of buried facilities, the hand exposure zone is 1m 93 ft.). it is recommended that the initial exposure be at the point where the new line first enters the right-of-way or comes within the hand exposure zone. Extra exposures should be made any time either facility takes a curve, bend, or where the locate is unclear. No matter what you do as a disturber, just remember that you must not allow the use of mechanical excavation equipment within 600 mm (2 ft.) of a buried pipeline, unless the use of the equipment is under the direct supervision of a representative of the facility owner.
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