Page 6 - Texas811
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 Can You Dig It?
By Dusty Roach HSE Manager Aghorn Energy
Allow me to introduce myself before we get started. My name is Dusty Roach, and I (“broke out”) started in the oilfield in 1971. In 2000, a VP asked
me how I felt about becoming a safety person. My response is not printable for any publication. He asked me why the salty negative response. I indicated that I could affect safety better in operations than safety; safety personnel back then had a reputation for knowing all the safety rules but nothing
about operations. The safety people represented a person who could take away safety bonuses. Plus, I never saw them in the field. Times have certainly changed for the better. However, the stark reality is accidents still happen.
After 51+ years in the oil and gas business, domestic and overseas operations, and safety, I’ve experienced numerous failures regarding excavation and digs. So, I have perhaps a
unique perspective and a wide range
of experience with all aspects of operations and safety and its application of 811 protocols. Additionally, I know
the benefits and drawbacks of trenching and excavation. I’m also aware of
the random unauthorized digging. Understanding the magnitude of this message regarding digging and the benefits of 811 is essential! Besides, it is the law, or at least in Texas.
I have experienced firsthand the scheduling issues of lining up 811. I’ve dealt with budgets, scheduling, and personnel availability from both sides. I’ve also witnessed catastrophic results for bypassing the protocols. I can
write a chapter on the importance of calling 811, which I have. If required, I could write the protocols in iambic pentameter, but some still don’t understand the importance of this process.
My experiences with visiting with friends and families at the burn center are not experiences that are easy to describe. The horror, even for a writer, much less a safety person or a friend or a family member. It is hard to capture in words.
The cemetery is the only place I know of that does not require a dig test. (and honestly, I am not sure of that) but I have attended too many funerals at the gravesites of employees and friends who have bypassed the regulations and the 811 Call.
It is a sad day when virtually all companies have a policy and procedure in place, and yet we still have numerous daily line-strikes. It has been my experience that those who are bold and uninformed of the dangers have had some form of success by bypassing the
811 call. It gives a false sense of security to people, not in the habit of calling. Feeling competent and being competent are two different things. If you look on the website for the map of underground pipelines, you will be amazed. The problem is those are the ones we know about. There are still underground lines that preceded our current mapping. Natural gas lines are not the only hazards.
Electrical lines, gas lines, and data lines all represent not only a hazard but also a loss of productivity!
A writer’s challenge as a safety person is to capture the public’s minds and sway them to take time and execute the proper process. Sadly, everyone is in a hurry because time is money, but so are repairs.
Based on numerous years of experience, my best advice is to make the Call. 811
is a much more pleasant number to call than 911.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. In the words of Teddy Roosevelt, “I don’t care about how much a man knows until I know how much a man cares.”
Additionally, in Baseball, it counts not how many hits you have but how many times you reach home safely.
4 • Texas811 2024, Issue 1

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