Safe operation saves lives. That’s the clear, positive, proactive message AEM will be sending to thousands of underground utility contractors this summer through its new Underground Utility Awareness campaign.

The campaign will encourage contractors to follow industry best practices and guidelines when operating horizontal directional drills (HDD), trenchers, vacuum excavators and related equipment.

It will disseminate these messages via news releases, video, social media, and face-to-face contact with our members and their dealers, and will culminate, appropriately enough, at the ICUEE 2015 show to be held September 29-October 1 in Louisville, Kentucky.

There, together with our industry partners, the campaign will engage everyone from exhibitors to contractors to utilities and municipalities in an effort to demonstrate that underground utility installation is safe, economical and efficient.

Top 10 Myths Revealed

Kicking off the campaign is a list of the top 10 myths of underground utility installation, along with facts about safe underground utility installation, repair and maintenance.

These top 10 myths can be viewed online on the new ICUEE 2015 website.

Along with other materials in the campaign, the list was developed with the help and direction of AEM’s Underground Equipment Manufacturers’ Council (UEMC), established in 2005 as a consolidation of five existing AEM product groups:

  • Trencher Equipment Council
  • Trenchless Equipment Council
  • Underground Electronics Committee
  • Underground Equipment Manufacturers’ Council
  • Vacuum Excavation Equipment Manufacturers Council

UEMC members plan to share this information with their dealers, customers, and municipal utility contacts.

The list will also be distributed through a number of partner organizations, such as the Common Ground Alliance, which will collaborate with AEM on a featured panel discussion at ICUEE that will focus on improving job site safety on both standard excavation and HDD projects.

At the same time, AEM will promote the top 10 myths list to industry trade magazines and websites and initiate a social media “drip” campaign on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to build buzz about individual myths.

Mid-Summer Momentum Continues

Mid-summer momentum will be maintained with the release of a second list of all industry stakeholders who play a role in helping to prevent underground utility damage. An informative, professionally produced video will also be released at that time.

These campaign materials will be part of the digital marketing and content campaigns targeting ICUEE 2015 show attendees and prospects. In addition, show management will provide exhibitors with a toolkit of campaign materials for distribution from their booths at the show.

Leadership Committee Drives Project

Aside from the campaign itself, one of the most important aspects of this effort is the fact that it is one of the first major projects of the revamped Technical and Safety Leadership Committee (TSLC).

The mission of the TSLC is to provide strategic and operational direction for AEM’s technical and safety programs, serving as the advocate for tech and safety initiatives in the Association.

About a year ago, several top member representatives convened to review and propose improvements to AEM’s Tech & Safety priority setting process. The most significant outcomes of this study included recommendations to:

  • Change the composition of the TSLC from general attendance to the committee chairs of the various product committees or their delegates.
  • Rely on each council, bureau and committee to develop their priorities during the normal process of their regularly scheduled meetings for submission to the TSLC.
  • Schedule TSLC meetings earlier in the year so that there is time to include the outcome in the larger scope of the AEM planning process.

Leadership from the TSLC and its Chair, John Fisher of Alamo Group Inc., was instrumental in the implementation of the Underground Utility Awareness campaign.

AEM Committed to Safe Equipment Operation

AEM and its members are committed to safety, and AEM assists manufacturers and the off-road equipment industry in fostering safety best practices through the Association’s extensive array of safety manuals, videos and related training materials.

The Underground Utility Awareness campaign gives members another great opportunity to get involved and encourage safe equipment operation on the jobsite.

If your company would like more information on the Underground Utility Awareness campaign, contact AEM’s William “Bernie” Bernhard (, tel: 414-298-4106).