CAPULC develops standards and guidelines for evaluating utility locator competencies

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STAFF WRITER
– The OCR Special Feature

The Canadian Association of Pipeline and Utility Locating Contractors (CAPULC), established in 2002 as a non-profit Canadian association, has become the voice of Canada’s Underground Facility Locators (UFLs).

The association represents more than 90 members across Canada, including locating contractors, facility owner/operators, surveying companies, training providers, locating equipment manufacturers, safety services and the Canadian Common Ground Alliance (CCGA).

One of CAPULC’s most recent members is the Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance (ORCGA).

CAPULC executive director Jason Mugford says the organization wanted to be proactive in the development of standards and guidelines for evaluating locator competencies. “CAPULC believed qualifications should be established and developed by knowledgeable and experienced individuals and organizations within the locating industry.”

The association’s mission statement says: “As contractors we have a vested interest in shaping our future, and we all have the desire to be proactive in the development of standards for the locating industry in Canada. As members of CAPULC we have a vested interest in directing the development of standards for the locating industry in Canada, through education and making industry specific information available to our members.”

The statement says association members “agree that the development of Canadian standards, the guidelines for evaluating competencies and qualifications required, should be determined by those of us with the knowledge and experience involved in the locating industry.”

Mugford says that in 2011, CAPULC spearheaded an initiative to recognize UFLs as an Alberta “designated occupation,” with a prescribed level of competency that must be demonstrated for the Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education and Technology to grant an occupational certificate. “The minister will grant certification upon successful completion of a written multiple choice exam which tests general knowledge of the industry and a detailed knowledge in the area/industry of expertise.”

He says the application for UFL as a designated occupation involved various stakeholders including the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA); Canadian Association of Geophysical Contractors (CAGC); Canadian Gas Association (CGA); Alberta Common Ground Alliance (ABCGA); Alberta Energy Regulators (AER); Alberta Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association (ARHCA); Construction Owners Association (COA); Petroleum Services Association of Canada (PSAC) and Alberta One Call Corporation (AOC).

Mugford says more than 3,200 locating competencies were identified and an occupational profile was created by CAPULC members, industry subject matter experts, equipment manufacturers, facility owner/operators, and technical institutes.

Subsequently, CAPULC also created an Application Task Force, represented by various stakeholder groups, and submitted the application to the Ministry of Innovation and Advanced Education.

Additionally, he says CAPULC had endorsed the Underground Facility Locating Field Task Competency Manual from Locate Management. The manual specifies locator training standards and competency requirements in an effort to increase the accuracy and reliability of locates. The manual contains task descriptions written by subject matter experts with input from a variety of industry stakeholders.

The UFL competency cycle consists of three stages: Knowledge development (preferably industry-specific course(s); industry- specific field training (hands-on or OJT); and industry-specific final assessment (verification of knowledge and skills).

Mugford says the Underground Facility Locator’s Field Task Competency Manual represents the third and final stage in the UFL competency cycle. “CAPULC supports and contributes to these standards and guidelines by promoting the practical application and delivery of knowledge, field training, and assessment to the locating industry.”

He says the underground network of utilities in Canada are getting more complex and congested as additional infrastructure is being built. UFLs are responsible for reviewing locate requests, locating, marking and mapping the approximate alignment of buried facilities. This includes communicating with facility owners and operators, excavators and ground disturbers, landowners and homeowners, One Call Centers and the public.

“They are responsible for researching and reviewing records, visual inspections, implementation of safe work processes, locating procedures and completion of locator documentation. Work assignments are often comprised of unique circumstances and may be technically challenging due to a complex work area requiring technical knowledge, skills, and experience.”

He says the work also includes applying judgement and decision making that may directly impact the success of a ground disturbance that affects the life, health, and safety of workers and the public, and the protection of infrastructure and the environment. “Locating is a very important step in the damage prevention process and CAPULC continues to provide leadership, promote safety, and enhance the value and reputation of the Underground Facility Locating Industry in Canada.”

Mugford says CAPULC welcomes all organizations from across Ontario who support its goals and initiatives to join the association as active members. “Our next general member meeting will be held on Jan. 29, 2016 in Edmonton, AB. Our competency review committee will have their first meeting that same day starting at 9:00 am. If anyone would like to join our committee to represent another stakeholder group or to join a current stakeholder group, please contact us at competencies@capulc. ca.”

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