My name is Doug Riseden and this the first post in our Hymax USA new blog. “Doug’s digs” was chosen as the name of the blog because we will deal mainly with professional issues that water utility workers encounter – operators, superintendents, engineers and managers – in the end of the day, you all care about what’s done in the field.
I have been in the public utility field for over 20 years, working for municipalities and private contractors, including providing water services to ISAF as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. My experience with water and waste water repairs and operations is extensive and I bring that experience and enthusiasm to my role as Field Technical Support for Hymax USA.
* * *
Working at night on pipe repairs is always more difficult than during the day. You are usually tired, having already worked a full day. You can sometimes hardly see due to shadows, darkness, and poor lighting at the work site. Throw in drivers who are also tired and perhaps driving faster than usual due to reduced traffic, and you have the makings of a high-risk situation.
For your family, especially for your wife and kids (if you’re married), your night call is a constant cause for worry. You want to make your best effort to have the job done as fast as possible, taking all the necessary precautions to avoid any mishaps and return home safely.
For the water utility, the operator is the most valuable asset, so all means should be taken to make sure he comes home safely every day.
So here are three things to ensure your night-time work is done effectively – and securely.
- Move carefully and deliberately on the work site
Many times, workers will want to get the job done quickly and skip some steps. This is understandable but it’s important to remind them to slow down, and work more cautiously than they do during the day. Even if they are very familiar with performing certain repairs, dark areas and shadows can hinder their perception of risk.
Planning and communication become crucial during night-time operations. Before the job starts, supervisors should have a brief meeting to ensure all team members understand what will take place at the work site, what their role is, and where they will be located throughout the night. Plan your work and work your plan!
- Have the right repair products on hand for every possibility
Always make sure that you have repair products on hand for every situation.
You would want to have on hand a variety of repair couplings that are quick and easy to install, which is extremely useful for night conditions. Always prefer wide-range couplings and clamps that are wide-range and can handle a variety of diameters. Products that have a minimal number of bolts, such as 2 bolts for the small to medium sizes and 4 bolts for larger sizes, are always better to use since they take a fraction of the time to install as compared to traditional products.
Another important feature you’d want to have is a stab-ready coupling you don’t have to disassemble before using – there’s nothing more aggravating than starting to look for that lost bolt in the water-filled ditch…
I’ve had good experience with the HYMAX VERSA coupling that has all these features – It is fully transitional and can connect any pipe you have to any other pipe. Attach to two pipes of differing diameters and materials which comes in handy when the exact material of the pipe or its diameter are not known in advance. The coupling also features top-facing bolts which are simple to tighten, and drastically cut installers’ repair time. The product has a stab-on design and does not need to be disassembled – there is nothing more aggravating for an operator than losing a bolt in a water-filled ditch at night.
- Keep a close eye on the crew
Supervisors need to keep a close eye on workers who will be tired from working a full day and prone to making mistakes. Supervisors should patrol their work area to see how workers are doing, and offer food and drink on a regular basis.
Flaggers in particular should be checked as they play a critical role in making sure night-time operations are safe. Crews want to make the repair and then get some rest before having to get up and do it all over again. A lack of rest or sleep accumulates over time. It’s important that crews are not run down to the point where they become exhausted and unable to perform. Provide them with the proper tools and repair parts to get the job done.
Make sure everything is done with a focus on safety. This includes wearing reflective clothing in accordance with the law, and using a trench box or shoring to ensure that the trench doesn’t collapse while workers are inside. There are many who never use a trench box because it gets in the way of some repairs. At night, the use of trench boxes and shoring is even more critical. Make trench boxes a normal part of every excavation, and never put speed ahead of safety.
I hope I could be of help in raising a few points that can matter when you are faced with similar situations in the field.
Have a safe workday and be sure to drop me a note if you’d like to comment or share your own ideas.