February 15, 2018
By Terry Murphy CLM

Terry MurphyAs I walked the aisles of my 31st Congress last month, I got a lot of nice comments about the usefulness of the information in this column and I appreciate all of your comments.

I had a class of Mohawk College apprenticeship students down at Congress on Jan. 10. Their assignment was to visit safety organizations, the New Product Showcase and the education section to get a general feel for the wonderful profession they are entering. They then had to write a page on the value of the show to the horticultural profession.

At Congress, the underground community had representation from the Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance (ORCGA), ON1CALL, Technical Standards and Safety Association (TSSA), Enbridge Gas, Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS), Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, and many others. All of these groups, combined with Landscape Ontario and the Canadian Fence Industry Association (CFIA) help to get out the “Dig Safe” message to all excavating contractors.

More on-time locate services in 2018

By provincial law, locates are required to be completed within five days of a call to ON1CALL. If the locate has not been completed on time, you are to call the locator to see what can be done to accommodate your problem. In most cases, the locate firm can reallocate staff to get your locate completed. If not, please call Steve Waugh at ON1CALL. Steve is the industry policeman and has the power to fine a locator if he sees fit. His job is to know about problems and then solve them.

ORCGA membership fees frozen for 2018

Since it began 13 years ago, the ORCGA has never increased their annual dues of $125 for a contractor with fewer than 20 employees. There will be no increase in 2018 either. ORCGA management has achieved this by managing costs and focusing on membership and sponsorship growth. Excavating contractors, landscapers and fencing companies who belong to ORCGA have an advantage over competing contractors because membership shows you care for the safety of your employees and for public safety. Visit the ORCGA website for a full list of benefits or to become a member.

2018 ORCGA Symposium

The underground damage prevention industry has an annual three-day convention similar to Congress. Open to the landscape, fencing and excavating industries, this year’s symposium will be held Feb. 9-11 at the Blue Mountain Resort in Collingwood, Ont. The event includes an annual general meeting, seminars, a trade show, recreational activities, guest speakers and a board meeting. For details, contact Keith Begley at keith@orcga.com or visit the ORCGA website.

Canada Blooms 2018

For the third straight year, the ORCGA will participate in Canada Blooms with an exhibit that will focus on showing the public what utility services are hidden underground that can be damaged if they dig without first calling ON1CALL for locates. Most of the public are totally unaware of their obligation and the requirement by law to call before they dig. Designed by Sean James and built by Bruce Wilson Landscaping, the exhibit is sponsored by ON1CALL and will be built by apprenticeship students from Mohawk College. Thanks to all the volunteers, including Tim Mcleish and Charlie Wilson from Bruce Wilson Landscaping.

Fencing industry involvement

I also write a similar column for the fencing industry publication, Fence Focus. In this quarterly publication, we aim to deliver damage prevention information and news to the fencing industry. The fence association are an integral part of the damage prevention industry and are working hard to foster a responsible challenge to reduce utility strikes in 2018. Their utility hits have increased each year and an all-out effort is needed to reduce this trend.

2018 ORCGA Geographic Councils

Like LO’s chapters, the ORCGA has Geographic Councils. The 13 councils across the province have regional meetings with guest speakers that are focussed on underground hit reduction and membership growth. All LO members are welcome to attend any of the meetings. Visit the ORCGA website for meeting locations and dates.

LO winter seminars

All ORCGA members should know the seminars in LO’s Professional Development Guide are available to them as well. Over 100 seminars are scheduled throughout the winter months while most of the excavation industry has slowed down. ORCGA members qualify for the LO member rate for all seminars, a savings of about 33 per cent. Most seminars are one-day and run 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and include lunch and all-day coffee. These savings alone can easily pay for your ORCGA membership fee. Visit HortTrades.com/seminars.

Back yard locator program

When you call ON1CALL for locates, the locate provider marks from the street service to the entrance of the building. If you are working on a side or back yard, the locate provided typically does not cover any facilities in those areas of the property. A growing trend is for contractors to have their own locator equipment in order to check for underground lines before digging. Included in the winter offerings from LO is a course on back yard locate training. All contractors (landscape, fence, irrigation, etc.) can benefit from this training. The three-hour seminar could prevent a utility hit and is offered in Milton and Ottawa.


In this column each month, I attempt to provide ORCGA, LO, CFIA members and other contractors about training, events, initiatives and programs that will increase safety and professionalism for all. If you would like more information, have any questions or comments, or require advice on additional training for staff or you company, please contact me.

Terry Murphy can be reached at tvmurphy@ca.inter.net.