Safe digging is a priority for Kinder Morgan Canada.

KMC’s Pipeline Protection department works to protect the integrity of the Trans Mountain Pipeline by monitoring any ground disturbance work taking place on or near the pipeline right-of-way. KMC’s Public Awareness program promotes safe digging practices by providing pipeline safety and damage prevention education to stakeholders. This is done in many different ways, including through company newsletters, social media, tradeshows and events and industry initiatives such as promoting April as Safe Digging Month.

KMC also practices safe digging as part of its own integrity work on the Trans Mountain Pipeline.

Before any ground disturbance work begins, KMC’s integrity teams connect with One Call services in BC or Alberta to determine what’s underground. One Call centres connect excavators with owners and operators of underground infrastructure and are the best way to find out what lies below a job site.

We spoke with Paul Huddleston, Senior Director, Engineering and Technical Services, about KMC’s commitment to safe digging in its own work on the pipeline.

Tell us about KMC’s own digging practices for its own assets.

I’m the director of our tech services group. We are responsible for conducting integrity digs for our pipeline systems. We’re out digging somewhere on our systems every day. We practice safe digging in our work. It’s a major focus for all our dig crews.

One of the first steps on every dig is doing locates and One Calls for our own work. Before we begin any ground disturbance work, we place a One Call. We’re calling before we dig and we’re making sure all our contractors call in before they dig.

What’s the benefit of a One Call?

There is a legal requirement to call before you dig. Unless you make that One Call, you have no idea what’s under the ground. There are all kinds of potential for underground utilities — gas lines, water lines and power lines. Because we’re a pipeline operator and we have a lot of experience with our right-of-way, we know what facilities are near us. However, we would never take for granted that we know where those facilities are. We would never go ahead and dig without first placing a One Call and having the owner of that utility verify the location and give us permission to go ahead with our excavation.

What requirements does KMC have for contractors?

Kinder Morgan is a supporter of the Gold Shovel Standard. It’s a way to measure a contractor’s competency for digging safely. Contractors that want to work for us must meet the requirements of the Gold Shovel Standard. To be certified under the Gold Shovel Standard, contractors must demonstrate effective safety management systems for the protection of buried assets such as pipelines, gas lines and power lines. This includes requirements for training all employees involved in ground disturbance and investigation. There’s also a requirement to report any incidents involving excavation damage.