Embracing the idea of safety and adhering to best practices to keep others safe is no small task. It takes commitment, effective communication with others, teamwork and – most importantly – adherence to rules, regulations and best practices designed to keep others safe.
Safety is a value AEM lives by, and it’s why the association works to assist its 1,000-plus members, the off-road equipment industry and the customers it serves in fostering safety best practices. It’s also why, as both 811 Day and The Utility Expo 2023 approach, AEM encourages everyone to promote and engage in safe digging practices.
“Supporting 811 Day and spreading awareness of the importance of safe digging practices is all part of advancing a culture safety,” said AEM Vice President of Construction and Utility John Somers. “AEM encourages its members to not only communicate the importance of engaging in safe digging practices and advancing a culture of safety, but also to inspire others to do so as well.”
AEM is a proud member of the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) – a U.S.-based association dedicated to promoting effective damage prevention practices in the underground utility industry. According to a recent statistic from CGA, somewhere between 400,000 and 500,000 utility strikes are reported in the U.S. each year. In addition, nearly 25% of those reported utility strikes follow a failure to notify 811 – which is required by law.
“When utility workers are drilling or trenching, there are no shortage of hazards to be dealt with or avoided – most notably striking an underground utility,” said The Utility Show Director John Rozum. “That’s why it’s so important to call 811 before digging takes place and wait for buried utilities to be marked before proceeding.”
Safety goes beyond following the law, however. To better address the safety and operating concerns behind digging, AEM and The Utility Expo have consulted utility industry professionals and hosted numerous education sessions highlighting the importance of damage prevention, with topics such as underground locating and vacuum excavating.
In addition, the association offers manufacturers and the off-road equipment industry in fostering safety best practices through its extensive array of safety manuals, videos and related training materials.
Ultimately, promoting 811 and encouraging safe digging is a year-round effort for AEM, and the association does so in the following different ways:
- AEM Safety Manuals provide information on how to use “Call 811”
- AEM member companies promote “Call 811” on their websites and through advertisement sliders and editorials
- Manufacturers place “Call 811” signage on their equipment
- Manufacturers post “811 Know What’s Below” stickers on their equipment
- References and instructions to “Call 811” are printed in their equipment operator’s manuals
- “Call 811” is mentioned in every safety video that involves breaking ground
- “Call 811” events are posted on social media outlets
- AEM uses CGA’s website and marketing materials
“The message of safety is one that should always remain top of mind for AEM and its members,” said AEM Safety Materials Program Manager Rebecca Basten. “In recognizing 811 Day, we reaffirm our commitment to being safety conscious. Safe machinery operation and job preparation saves lives, and all industry stakeholders contribute to the success of any utility excavation or installation.”
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