Directional boring is preferable than traditional open-cut trenching in laying underground utility lines. You can use horizontal directional drilling (HDD) to place oil, water, gas, and fiber optic underground lines. Directional boring contractors prefer this method because it’s quick, affordable, effective, and causes the least disturbance on the site’s landscape.
Like open-cut trench utility installation, HDD has hazards need to be controlled for the working environment to be safe. Read on to understand the safety precautions that you should take when engaging in trenchless pipe drilling.
1. Locate, Expose, and Mark the Utility Lines
Directional boring disturbs two main areas, which include the places where utilities will be connected and the point at which the drilling machine is set up. If you don’t take caution while drilling, the drilling machinery can damage existing utility lines in the bore path. As such, it’s prudent to locate, expose, and mark essential utility lines to prevent their damage.
Utility lines, such as gas or power lines, can cause electrocution or explosions and fires. Preventing their damage also saves you from potential harm and losses that you can incur in repairing the damaged utility lines. It’s safe and efficient to use vacuum excavation when locating utility lines. After locating the utility lines, you should plan the drill path well to avoid hitting utility line protrusions.
2. Provide Proper Equipment and Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) To Your Crew
Reliable directional boring contractors should provide their team of workers with the right personal protective equipment and working machines. The crew should also receive proper training on how to use the machines, PPE, and tools to prevent injury or damage to equipment and tools. The PPE equipment should include proper eye-wear, footwear, hard hats, gloves, hearing protection, and visible work clothing.
3. Always Keep Track Of The Drill
You should track the drilling head as it drills and should continue to do this at least at every full pipe length. You should conduct more tracking if the underground drilling area is more congested with utility lines. You should mark every tracking location and continue monitoring the underground boring process to ensure the bore always stays on the designated path.
If you fail to do so, you may end up drilling in a direction you didn’t intend to drill.
4. Perform A Complete Site Hazard Assessment and Discuss Planned Emergency Responses
Responsible directional boring contractors should address all the hazards that their crew may encounter before the underground drilling can begin. After such discussions, employees should familiarize themselves with the site and all emergency procedures that should be followed during emergency cases. You should show employees all emergency facilities and evacuation plans.
5. Allow Proper Communication During Drilling
All site operators need to have two-way radio communication with the product side personnel and driller locator. Proper communication helps in coordinating the work process. Back batteries and spare radios should be available for emergency purposes. Support personnel and visitors should get adequate information and briefing about their restrictions, responsibilities, and possible site hazards. They should also learn about emergency response and evacuation plans to keep them safe while on site.
6. Ensure There Are Vehicle and Pedestrian Traffic Controllers On Site
Directional boring contractors sometimes drill under roads and other active public areas where people and vehicular traffic may be present. As such, at least one employee should be available to control the human or vehicular traffic to prevent any property damage or injury.
Safety is essential in all workplaces. It’s the responsibility of all directional boring contractors to prepare their crew for safe working experience. Such preparations improve the observance of safety precautions and prevent injuries and property damage.