In Your Community: Contractor Expo Focuses on Safe Digging

With an unexpected increase in dig tickets and warmer than normal spring temperatures, employees and other participants shared their concerns about digging at the 2012 Capital Area Damage Prevention Association (CADPA) Contractor Expo in Mason last month. Employees, contractors, excavators, road workers and field operators gathered to learn more about personal safety and damage prevention.

“Through this expo, we hope to be proactive in damage prevention,” said Susan Franke, a Lansing public affairs administrative specialist and president of CADPA. “We want people to come away knowing the importance of working safely and preventing damage to underground utility pipes and lines.”

Employees presented on multiple topics, including locating and staking lines with United States Infrastructure Corp. Locating Services, providing occupational safety exercises, and understanding safety equipment and potential dangers as well as pipeline public awareness. The company also helped promote its “Respect the Flags” awareness program, which promotes the message of underground utility and natural gas safety in elementary schools across the state. 

“Consumers Energy is very active in damage prevention, and our employees work hard to keep one another and the public safe,” said Tabitha Morgan, a Lansing gas field leader II. “We’re staking as accurately as possible, but it’s also important to hand expose facilities and not always assume they’re initially correct.”

Donna Schmeichel, a damage prevention liaison at MISS DIG System, Inc., explained an upcoming bill proposal, Public Act 53, which would improve current dig laws. If passed, the proposed legislation would require faster response times for job requests, provide more feedback about job progress and create stricter penalties for concealing damage or operating dangerously. It also would incorporate the use of “whitelining,” or marking specific dig areas, and create more specific requirements for hand digging near underground utility lines.

“We don’t run into a lot of problems with gas or electric lines, but we find a lot of abandoned phone lines that aren’t marked, which means we have to stop and wait for someone to come out and check on them,” said Cindy Farley of the Ingham County Road Commission. “The new laws, especially the quicker response times, would be very helpful for everyone.”

Schmeichel also encouraged people to submit digging requests online through MISS DIG’s website at “It’s very easy, and if it’s a simple request or job, it is a lot faster to use this option,” she said.  

Other CADPA Contractor Expo presentations included proper excavating, trenching and shoring techniques from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration and construction training and certification programs offered by Lansing Community College.

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