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March 18, 2002

Construction Safety at ULM

The University of Louisiana at Monroe construction management students received first-hand underground safety and damage prevention advice from representatives of two industry leading groups during their construction safety class on Tuesday, March 5, 2002.

"One of the objectives of the ULM Construction Safety class is to introduce the students to a system of recognition, avoidance, and prevention of unsafe working conditions and employment," Dr. David Manry, Construction Management Assistant Professor, said. "Guest speakers are a very good way to place the students in direct contact with the industry."

Guest speakers at this event were David Frey, Louisiana One Call damage prevention manager, and Marlon Curtis, Williams Gas district manager. They discussed the different aspects of locating below ground utilities, digging safely, and underground damage prevention.

"It is very important to educate future construction managers at the early stage of their careers," David Frey said. "The One Call system is the first line of defense for safety, damage prevention, and non-interruption of services when it comes to underground utility lines and pipelines."

Established in 1975 as "DOTTIE" -- Dial One Time To Inform Everyone -- in Louisiana, this free system allows excavators to notify many operators of underground facilities with a single toll-free call. Last year, Louisiana One Call received 366,000 incoming calls, and made over 2 million calls to members. "One single call we receive generates 5 or 6 calls to our members," Frey said. "Typically, this includes calls to water, gas, electricity, phone, and cable companies."

Today, calling the Louisiana One Call before starting any digging work is required by the Louisiana Underground Utilities and Facilities Damage Prevention Law passed in 1988, and amended in 1997 to include enforcement.

The second part of the class focused on the pipeline situation in Louisiana. There are more pipelines in Louisiana than anywhere in the world," Frey said. "There are underground lines almost anywhere you can imagine."

For this reason, companies such as Williams Gas are mandated by the Department of Transportation to participate in public awareness programs. "Construction management students need to know that pipeline markers indicate that there is a pipeline underground, but they don't indicate the exact location, and especially not the depth," Marlon Curtis said. "There are some industry standards, but with time the landscape changes and this affects the underground position of the pipeline, and can lead to danger during excavation work."

"Today, safety has replaced production in the work place," Curtis said. "Because of the competitive nature of the construction business, you need to be efficient, and in construction, being efficient means that you have to be safe. This is why safety-conscious contractors should expose and protect the existing lines."

To guarantee the education of future safety-conscious contractors, Construction Safety is a mandatory senior level class required for the ULM construction management students to graduate. More information about underground safety and damage prevention can be found on the ULM Construction Management web site at Photos of this event are available by request from the Office of Public Affairs.

For more information contact: Vanessa Prevost at 342-1862.

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