2011-Gosh-ConferenceThere were over 1,500 attendees each day at the Oregon Governor’s Occupational Safety & Health Conference held March 7-10, 2011 at the Oregon Convention Center. OUNC’s booth looked great with the addition of our new mascot, Bud, Jr.

For the first time ever at the GOSH Conference, skilled forklift operators competed for cash prizes at the new Columbia Forklift Challenge. The Columbia Forklift Challenge tested the drivers ability to operate a forklift safely during an obstacle course event which was held on Tuesday, March 8. The cash prizes ranged from $200 to $500 and were given to individuals as well as teams. The morning of the event, the drivers received an orientation which was located near the OUNC booth. A group from Boise Packaging of Salem, stopped by to pick up some dig safely materials on their way to orientation. Ruben Medina also picked up one of our popular camouflage hats which he wore during the challenge. It proved to be a good omen for him, not only did he win $500 for taking 1st place in the competition for the individual segment, his team also won the team prize of $450!

On Wednesday March 9, Gary Hyatt, Damage Prevention Program Supervisor for Northwest Natural Gas and also one of the authors of the Oregon Dig Law along with Bryan Baxter, Compliance Specialist/Damage Prevention Investigator for Northwest Natural Gas presented “Oregon Excavating Law: Protecting Our Workers and the Underground Infrastructure” to 32 students.

811 on the Internet

log-onProcessing locates on the Internet is FUN! No sitting on hold! No waiting for an operator to answer the phone. You can process your requests 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Registering to process your locate requests online is easy. Go to www.callbeforeyoudig.org – click the icon that guides you to the professional excavator area, and then to ITIC (short for INTERNET TICKET). You’ll be guided to a registration page where you’ll enter your email address, phone number, and click on the button to register. Once your request has been processed, you are ready to start processing your locates! You’re provided with a user manual, explaining how to communicate with the computer system, helping to ensure your requests are handled in the most expedient manner. Bingo – before you know it, your fingers are flying. Getting your work done in record time! Because of the time constraints and urgency needed to process EMERGENCY requests, processing EMERGENCY tickets over the Internet is not allowed. But for all, your normal 48 hour request, you’ll find nothing simpler!

The ITIC system is constantly being upgraded with new enhancements and upgrades – improving your input experience. The newest enhancement is “Duplicate a Dig”. By imputing a previously processed ticket number, you can duplicate information from any previous ticket without affecting anything about a previous request. This can be used as a simple ‘cut and paste’ maneuver to save on key strokes, or to transfer a ticket from one contractor to another.

Become a part of the newest technology offered in processing your locate requests! It’s simple, easy, and convenient.

Contractor’s Breakfast

contractor-breakfastA Contractor’s Breakfast sponsored by LBUCC and ELUCC was held at NW Natural’s offices in Albany recently and was a success again this year. This breakfast has been going on annually for the past few years and has provided an opportunity for both utilities and contractors to get together over breakfast to discuss their success over the past year in protecting the local area utilities, and the local Utility Locating Councils show their appreciation for everyone’s efforts in protecting the areas utility services for all of its citizens. The contractor’s breakfast is a joint effort put on by the Linn Benton and East Linn Utility Coordinating Councils. This year there were 117 attendees, including members of the OUNC Board of Directors. It is opportunities and events like this the promote the continued success of the “Dig Safely Oregon” program and allow for additional interaction between utility representatives, field crews and contractors involved in the daily protection of the states utilities. In addition to the great breakfast and fellowship, the member utilities and local utility councils provide raffle prizes for the breakfast. The grand raffle prize of a gas barbecue donated by Williams NW Pipeline was won by Robert Johnson of XL Cable.

OUNC Honors Members’ Service

gary-kevin-awardOn January 13, 2010 the OUNC Board of Directors took some time at their monthly board meeting to honor a couple of their members for service above and beyond the call. Gary Hyatt of Northwest Natural Gas who participated as one of the crafters of the One Call Law retired from the board in November 2009. Gary started his service on the first board of the newly formed OUNC in 1995 and through the years has worked tirelessly to promote the message of digging safely throughout our state. He has served on the Publicity and Education Committee, the Contracts Committee, the Special Services Committee, the Enforcement Committee and the Locator Rodeo Committee. Gary has also spent countless hours providing training on the One Call Law to literally thousands of people involved in excavation throughout the state. We will all miss him at our meetings, but I am sure he will still be involved someway with the Dig Safely effort in our state.

Kevin Stephens was also honored for his contributions over the past two years as Board Chair. Kevin was honored for the great efforts he spearheaded to promote the board’s message to excavators and operators within the state. During his term the board increased the presence of their message through radio and television advertising, placed the message on billboards along I-5 and held several large seminars covering the One Call Law in Medford, Albany and Portland. Kevin still serves as the Electric Utilities representative on the board and is still highly involved in their P&E efforts.

Kids at local pre-school get a lesson on the Oregon One Call Law

kids-lesson1Oregon Dig Law Mini Class:
During a play session within the preschool a couple of the kids were playing in the dirt when one of them yelled “We need to be careful of the electric wires underground.”

One of the teachers is the daughter of NW Natural employee Carmen Giancana who thought that it would be a good idea to see if someone could come talk to the kids about underground utilities. She contacted her mom asking her if she knew of anyone who could do this. Carmen asked if I knew of anyone. I informed her that I did training before and would be happy to set something up with her daughter. I contacted the school we set up a date for me to come out to speak with the kids.

kids-lesson2Kids getting a lesson at a work zoneI put together a couple of fun things for the kids to do as well as an award from Dialer & Digby. On the day I went out to speak to the kids I noticed a sewer crew working around the corner, I stopped to ask if I could bring kids down to see the work zone and talk to them. Tim from Root Excavation agreed. After talking to the kids about safety around a work zone we went on a field trip to the site. We discussed locates, potholing and excavation. After we returned back to the school I gave a talk and demonstration of how the Oregon Dig Law works plus showed them a locater.

My feed back from the school was great.

Donald W Patterson
Risk Environment and Land
NW Natural

OUNC works with Governor to proclaim April, 2010 Safe Digging Month

As part of the national effort to raise awareness of safe digging practices, and encourage the use of 811 to request locates of underground facilities. The Oregon Utility Notification Center (OUNC) board of directors worked with Governor Kulongoski to issue a proclamation naming April 2010 “Oregon Safe Digging Month”. In the proclamation the Governor has asked people to call 811 at least two business days before digging to insure all essential underground utilities are located before excavating.

The board would like to thank the Governor for his support and hopes everyone will use the free call to 811 prior to starting any digging project.

View Proclamation(PDF)

Call Before Digging to Avoid Underground Utility Lines

call-beforeDid you know it’s the law to find out where buried pipes, wires and cables are located before you dig? I didn’t. It’s free. And if you don’t find out and then damage an underground utility line, you’ll have to pay to get it repaired. Eeek. I’d say a quick call to 811 is worth it. You can also go online to digsafelyoregon.com.

Once I get started on a project, I don’t want to stop. But, you’ve got to admit, this is a small thing and you can do it anytime. The line is open 24/7. You do have to plan ahead, though. It’ll take them two days to come out and mark anything you have to avoid.

We’re not talking about planting perennials or shrubs (unless they’re big), but digging a deeper hole for a tree or pond or pool or such, requires a call. Make sure any contractors or excavators you hire pick up the phone or go online. Again, no matter who does the work, you’ll be liable.

The 811 call will be answered by One Call Center of Oregon and Southwest Washington located in Portland. The center will notify the appropriate local utilities that then send the necessary crews to mark the area free of charge. It’s that easy.

Posted by kpokorny April 29, 2009 06:12AM
Article published on OregonLive.com

OUNC participates in 2009 GOSH Conference

GOSH-ConfOUNC Board members Anita Floyd (Qwest), Gary Hyatt(NW Natural) and Jennifer Carter (Emery & Sons) staff the Oregon Dig Safely booth on opening day at the Portland Convention Center for the GOSH (Governor’s Occupational Safety and Health) Conference held March 10-11, 2009 in Portland, Oregon.

Over 2,000 employers, safety and health professionals, safety committee members, line supervisors, manufacturers, and distributors were registered to attend this year’s conference. Conference attendees go to various seminars throughout the two day conference to gain state of the art knowledge and skills in occupational safety and health programs.

The Oregon GOSH conference is considered the largest safety and health conferences in the West, and one of the largest in the United States!

Oregon Site of Northwest Regional Locate Rodeo

(From the July/ August issue of Underground Focus Magazine)

spotlight-stagingIn Oregon, 29 utility locate professionals demonstrated their skills in the third annual Northwest Regional Utility Locate Rodeo held June 6-7 at Linfield College in McMinnville, Or.

Participants had 12 minutes to complete a locate in one of four divisions including Gas, Electric, Water, and Communications. A bonus event, “Locate from Hell”, further challenged their skills with only three minutes to locate what could be any type of utility.

The event is under the leadership of Chairperson Jamie Stencil of Comcast. Stencil and a dedicated committee supported by the Oregon Utility Notification Center (OUNC) gathered a group of 58 volunteers to make the event a success. The OUNC board decided in 2006 to host the event in Oregon to give West Coast folks a chance to experience an event that recognizes those within the locating industry for their professionalism and often demanding job. First-place winners in each division received $500 in prize money and $1300 towards their trip to the International Rodeo in Atlanta. Prizes were also awarded to second and third place locaters in each division, as well as first-place in the Locate from Hell.

spotlight-gas-commAs part of the educational portion of the Northwest Rodeo, Paul Larkin, an instructor with Staking University in Manteno, Ill., had a packed house for his full day class on the day before the competition. “We received great feedback from everyone who attended the seminar. Paul did a great job,” Stencil said. “One city employee said that he got so much out of the class that he was going to sign up his entire department next year.” Stencil and Kimberly Lakey, administrative assistant at OUNC, noted that all participants and volunteers had positive comments about the event. “They noted that it was well organized and smooth running, but very challenging,” Stencil said.

spotlight-powrStencil also praised his committee members for their dedication and hard work. “As the event grew closer, I didn’t feel the pressure that I had felt in the years past because of all the hard work of the committee members. They took on a huge work load for the event on top of their existing jobs,” he said.

All in all, Stencil called this one of the best rodeo events to date. “The event is important to bring notoriety to the locators who have a tremendous responsibility marking accurately to save lives,” he said. “It is a chance for locaters to show off their locating skills while creating a competitive motivation to better their accuracy and skills.”

Plans are underway for the 2009 event!!!!!!!

Getting out the 811 message: ‘Quick hit’ counts on curiosity

Think about what you do when you’re sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic waiting for the light to change. Chances are you spend at least a little of that time checking out the stickers plastered on the vehicle in front of you.

In fact, Jarrod Morrison of Contract Construction & Program Management for PGE is counting on that.

spotlight-jarrod-morrisonAs Morrison explains, with the help of Fleet Services, his goal is to get an “811 — Call before you dig” sticker placed on the bumpers of all PGE vehicles, everything from line trucks to company vans. His plan — conceived as a Customer Focus Initiative quick hit — calls for stickers to be placed on each vehicle as it makes its way through Fleet Services for maintenance.

“We’re always looking for new and different ways to get the ‘call before you dig’ message out to people,” Morrison says. “Nationwide, about half of the damage done to underground utilities occurs because people do not call and ask for a locate.” A locate is when a professional utility locator visits a site in advance of any digging and marks the approximate location of an underground utility line. In 2007, PGE received 339 reports of so-called dig-ins, which occur when someone hits one of our underground lines.

“We want to get the word out about this free service,” Morrison says. “The stickers are basically a low-cost thing, but it could have a high impact because PGE has more than 1,000 vehicles. I know when I’m stopped at a stoplight; I can’t help but read the stickers on the bumper in front of me.”

More on 811
In 2006 the Federal Communication Commission set aside the three digit number 811 for calling before you dig and it became the nationwide number to call for locates on May 1, 2007. The Oregon Utility Notification Center, (OUNC) the state agency responsible for the Oregon excavation law and the administration of the One Call Center is committed to preventing damage to underground utilities. So, It has joined forces with the Common Ground Alliance, (CGA) a national damage prevention organization and its 1,400 members to participate in its national “Call before you dig” campaign to increase public awareness about the importance of having utility lines marked before digging.