Damage Prevention on Site Starts with the Right Planning ft. Raymond Sonnier

Ep. 16 |
November 22, 2022

The unsung heroes of our industry- damage prevention specialists are there to do exactly what their title states: prevent harmful damage from affecting the work site and damage to utilities.

One of those specialists is joining us this week, Raymond Sonnier, a damage prevention specialist for Atmos Energy Corporation located in Louisiana breaks down the importance of educating workers on site about, quality control of audits of excavators, and the main issues facing our industry.

In this episode, we cover the past, present, and future of subsurface utility management, while discussing how new technologies in the industry make utility mapping easier.

Raymond is an expert in Utility with 20 years of experience in the field. Slowly through educating himself on the problems and solutions of the industry he’s worked his way to becoming a specialist in damage prevention.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3


The industry needs to be more advanced

We are not advanced. We are not advancing as I would hope we are, but not as quickly, and maybe things need to take time, but the technology is there, innovation is there, and evolution is there. We are going to have to get on board with the ideas of other people, of what your company does, David. We're gonna have to take those ideas and we're gonna have to get serious and we're gonna have to do something to save damages from happening. Doing something is better than doing nothing, and I understand business.

There is a labor shortage

But in my industry, there's one importance, 811 is set up for public safety. You have two stakeholders that have to deal with safety. You have the excavator and you have the utility operator/locator. You understand the law is written for those two main stakeholders. You have to have people in each of those. You have to have enough excavators to do the job safely, efficiently, and productively. You have to have both. We in America we're having a problem with a labor shortage for whatever reason. The problem is not having enough boots on the ground.

Education is the Key

That is how I catch the big one from happening. Just like the police, when they catch criminals, sometimes you just got to be in the right place at the right time. Other than that, we catch damage. By producing audits, I audit the contractor that works for me in line locating. I audit my in-house personnel that does line locating, and sometimes we catch damages from happening. By doing audits, we'll catch lines that are mismarked or not marked at all. Or we'll catch the excavator on site doing something that's against law, like what I just described. We do damage prevention in all sorts of ways. Education is at the top of the list. We educate, constantly. Either I do meetings like I did yesterday with some energy engineers, or we'll engage excavators on site and go through a quick pre-construction meeting.

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