Call before you clear to avoid cross bores

November 25, 2015

This photo of a cross-bore is from WorkSafeBC Hazard Alert #: WS 2014-04

Image credit: WorkSafeBC Hazard Alert – WS 2014-04

Chances are, you’ve heard how important it is to “call before you dig” – but it’s just as important to “call before you clear” when working with sewer lines.

The reason for this is to avoid a cross bore – which occurs when a natural gas line was installed unintentionally through a sewer service line.

“Calling FortisBC before beginning any clearing work on a sewer outside of the building foundation is extremely important,” says Ian Turnbull, Damage Prevention & Energy Service Manager with FortisBC. “In the rare instance a cross bore exists, clearing a blocked sewer could damage the pipeline and allow natural gas to travel through the sewer system. This poses a public safety risk.”

The FortisBC website explains that “…these intersecting lines can go undetected and co-exist safely until the clearing of a blocked sewer damages the pipeline. If damaged, natural gas can travel through the sewer system and into homes and businesses, risking public safety and potentially costing money for repairs.”

FortisBC asks you to:

* Call or ask your sewer clearing professional to call BC One Call at 1-800-474-6886. The service is free, easy and available 24 hours a day.
* Let the agent know that you’re calling about a “sewer service line blockage.”
* BC One Call will notify FortisBC immediately and we will make every effort to respond within two hours or less.

You can also call FortisBC’s natural gas emergency line (24 hours) at 1-800-663-9911.

Cross bores also pose a risk to workers doing horizontal directional drilling to install underground utilities.

“This installation method is useful because it minimizes disruption to the surface and traffic,” reads this WorkSafe bulletin: The dangers of cross bores when directional drilling.

For more information, read this WorkSafeBC hazard alert: The danger of explosions when clearing sanitary or storm sewers.

Thanks to FortisBC for answering my questions about this.

Don’t share your flu

November 18, 2015

Image from WorkSafeBC Video Don't Take Your Work Home With You

Image from WorkSafeBC Video Don’t Take Your Work Home With You


That’s what I heard – and slightly felt – from someone standing only a few inches away in the shoe aisle on a recent shopping trip.

I turned, instinctively, to look at her, and let’s just say my expression was not very friendly.

“Sorry,” she muttered with a snotty sniff, then went back to looking at shoes, as I practically ran away, holding my breath. Instantly I pictured the little animated viruses from the WorkSafeBC video Don’t Take Your Work Home With You and hoped I could outrun them.

How inconsiderate! Who would do that? But there she was, out and about, sneezing on people and putting her virus-y hands all over the shoes.

So far, as I write this post, it’s three days later, and I’m still feeling okay. Symptoms can hit one to four days after exposure, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

“Seasonal flu cases result in approximately 12,200 hospitalizations and, on average, 3,500 deaths in Canada each year,” reads this public health reminder published by Health Canada on October 27, 2015.

While most people recover within about 10 days, other people (like the elderly or immune-compromised) can be very ill and even at risk of death.

Health Canada advises people to:

* Get a flu shot
* Clean hands frequently
* Cough and sneeze into your arm, not your hand. If you use a tissue, dispose of it as soon as possible and wash your hands
* If you get sick, stay home
* Keep your hands away from your face
* Keep common surface areas – for example, doorknobs, light switches, telephones and keyboards – clean and disinfected
* Eat healthy foods and stay physically active to keep your immune system strong

That’s right: if you get sick, stay home – especially if it’s just a trip to browse for shoes. Sheesh!

Call before you clear to avoid cross bores

Chances are, you’ve heard how important it is to “call before you dig” – but it’s just as important to “call before you clear” when working with sewer lines.

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