The Damage Prevention Duo

How locators and vacuum excavators work together to mitigate jobsite damage

By: Chris Thompson, Vacuum Excavation Product Manager and Rudy Cabello, Utility Locating Product Manager at Subsite

Strikes or cross bores can be costly and dangerous for an underground construction jobsite. As the industry evolves and underground environments become more complex, keeping crews safe and jobsites on schedule has become a team effort. Everyone plays a part in damage mitigation, and locate technicians and vacuum excavation operators are two
of the key positions.

Locating a jobsite is the most efficient way for contractors to avoid underground utilities and prevent damage, while exposing utilities with a vacuum excavator is the best way to prevent a utility strike or cross bore. With both processes, underground construction crews can navigate around existing utilities.

Locating Best Practices
The first step to a successful underground construction job is locating utilities. Contractors need to call 811 before digging, but what does the actual locating process entail?

First, a locate technician must connect to a utility and find the correct frequency to send down the line. Their goal is to trace that frequency through the ticketed area.

Different frequencies have different benefits, but the main challenge to consider when selecting one is jobsite interference, which can disrupt locater data. There are two types: Active interference comes from sources with an electrical signal, such as cable lines; passive interference comes from sources without a signal, like chain-link fences.

Locate technicians should identify any interference before beginning a locate. It’s also good for them to begin at a low frequency between 263Hz and 870Hz and move to a higher one, like 8.0lkHz. While higher frequencies are easier for locators to detect, they run the risk of bleeding off. Locate technicians should also avoid developing a “favorite” frequency, as it may not be the best choice for every jobsite.

Properly Exposing Utilities
While locating utilities is the first step, exposing or “daylighting” them is the most thorough way to avoid strikes or cross bores. Unlike locating, which only tells contractors where utilities are, daylighting lets crews see and avoid them.

There are three reasons to do this: First, a utility needs to be exposed if it’s in the path of installation, even if it was found at a different depth than construction. Second, exposing a utility ensures it doesn’t veer into the path of construction, something typically done by potholing when working parallel with a utility. Third, double-checking a locate by exposing the utility will reduce the chance of a strike.

Soft excavation with a vacuum excavator is the best way to mitigate damage, although following best practices is pivotal. Contractors need to keep water or air pressure below 3,000 psi, hold the vacuum nozzle eight inches away from the utility, and move it consistently.

In This Together
As demand for underground construction increases, keep in mind that underground professionals are in it together, and locating and excavating utilities will help both contractors and locators be safe and successful You can stay efficient and avoid unnecessary downtime by getting the most accurate locate possible and exposing utilities safely.

HYDRAULIC BREAKER
Used for construction and demolition, our breakers can be used to break up asphalt, concrete or even clay. The hydraulic hammer is perfect for any small or medium job you might have. More up-time in the field is always the goal, and with only two moving parts and a few seals, there’s no reason for down-time.
Compatible Models

SK600, SK800, SK900, SK1050, SK1550, SK1750

ROCK SAW

Best suited for irrigation and fiber installation, the Rock Saw attachment can effortlessly cut through rock, concrete, and other tough materials with unmatched precision. 

Compatible Models

SK1050, SK1550, SK1750

BACKHOE
Easily move materials for rebuilds, new construction, footings, utility repairs and more with this compact and versatile attachment.
Compatible Models

SK800, SK900, SK1050, SK1550, SK1750

STUMP GRINDERS
Featuring a heavy-duty boom design, powerful stump grinding attachments quickly shred stumps down to nothing. Easy maneuvering from stump to stump and increased visibility turns more ground stumps into more profit.
Compatible Models

SK600, SK800, SK900, SK1050, SK1550, SK1750, SK3000

MULTITASK TOOL
Your multipurpose tool for the ultimate multi-tasker is here. Engineered to grab tight to heavy materials and move them with ease and precision, the multi-task tool is your go-to for heavy applications. Easy to operate with convenient, functional levers.
Compatible Models

SK600, SK800, SK900, SK1050, SK1550, SK1750

CORE DRILL
With the MC-450 coring attachment, utility maintenance is simple and less disruptive. Featuring intuitive controls and an integrated water tank, the MC-450 is the perfect choice for quick cuts and a more productive coring process. A fully adjustable 0 to 280 rpm speed allows for enhanced control and greater productivity.
Compatible Models

SK1050, SK1550, SK1750

SOIL CULTIVATOR
Prepare food plots, gardens, and landscaping projects with a soil cultivator. It gets land ready by stirring organic material back in the soil for a healthier, more stable lawn. Buries the biggest of rocks for a looser topsoil.
Compatible Models

SK600, SK800, SK900, SK1050, SK1550, SK1750

BLADES
Whether you’re looking to increase dump height or digging depth, attaching a backfill blade is an easy way to save manpower on your jobsite while working with precision and timeliness. Available in various widths.
Compatible Models

SK600, SK800, SK900, SK1050, SK1550, SK1750

AUGER DRIVER
Ideal for landscaping and tree care, an auger attachment will expedite hole creation and allow operators to quickly plant trees or install fence posts than if they were hand-digging or relying on a hand-held auger. Available in 6" to 30" diameters.
Compatible Models

SK600, SK800, SK900, SK1050, SK1550, SK1750

TILLER
Tough and effective tillers prepare your garden by breaking up tough soil and removing unwanted weeds. Available in 4' width.
Compatible Models

SK600, SK800, SK900, SK1050, SK1550, SK1750

GRAPPLES
Tree grapples come with 48" or 57" openings to efficiently remove logs and debris from the jobsite. It has an excavator style boom design with a powder coat finish and a cylinder lock for increased safety. Brush grapples available with a gap opening of 29" and widths of 42" or 54".
Compatible Models

SK600, SK800, SK900, SK1050, SK1550, SK1750

CARRY ALL LEVELER
One of our most simple yet versatile attachments, the Carry-All Leveler is perfect for carrying bulky material, leveling soil and adding a flat, smooth finish to your project. Available in 49" width.
Compatible Models

SK600, SK800, SK900, SK1050, SK1550, SK1750

BUCKETS
Turn one machine into a multi-functional workhorse with versatile Ditch Witch® SK attachments. From landscaping and hardscapes to tree care and construction-grade tasks, your stand-on skid steer can take on more than you think. We've got you covered with a variety buckets from 4-in-1 to heavy and light material buckets. Widths range from 34" to 66".
Compatible Models

SK600, SK800, SK900, SK1050, SK1550, SK1750, SK3000

PALLET FORKS
Take on your heaviest loads with precision and dependability with Ditch Witch pallet forks. They easily attach to any of our skid steers and can easily accessorize with hay spikes, brick guards, and much more to add even more ROI. Available in widths ranging from 36-48.75" and lengths from 36-48".
Compatible Models

SK600, SK800, SK900, SK1050, SK1550, SK1750, SK3000

MICROTRENCHER
Fiber installation and other street-located work is rapidly growing. A microtrenching attachment is key for operators looking to get into fiber installation at the street level. They cut both concrete and asphalt in controlled increments so contractors don't need to stop traffic. Maximum width options are 0.5-1.5” or 2” with maximum depths of 12” or 16”.
Compatible Models

SK1050, SK1550, SK1750, SK3000

ROTO WITCH®
The Ditch Witch Roto Witch® attachment is used for short bores underneath sidewalks, driveways and other obstacles. It offers great digging performance while minimizing jobsite restoration. Compatible with numerous Ditch Witch stand-on skid steers, the Roto Witch attachment can bore and backream up to 12" (300 mm) in diameter.
Compatible Models

SK600, SK800, SK900, SK1050, SK1550, SK1750

PLOW
Install fiber and other utilities quickly with a vibratory plow attachment for your skid steer. It creates less ground disruption and cleanup than traditional trenching to get the job done faster. Available in maximum depths of 14" and 24".
Compatible Models

SK600, SK800, SK900, SK1050, SK1550, SK1750, SK3000

POWER RAKE
Clean, level and prep jobsites or smooth and loosen soil for sodding with a rake attachment. Most rake attachments require 10 to 14 gpm, but the higher horsepower creates even more drum torque to tear through the most demanding soil types. Width measures 4'.
Compatible Models

SK600, SK800, SK900, SK1050, SK1550, SK1750

MICROTRENCHERS
Fiber installation and other street-located work is rapidly growing. A microtrenching attachment is key for operators looking to get into fiber installation at the street level. They cut both concrete and asphalt in controlled increments so contractors don't need to stop traffic. Maximum width options are 0.5-1.5” or 2” with maximum depths of 12” or 16”.
Compatible Models

SK1050, SK1550, SK1750, SK3000

ROTO WITCH®
The Ditch Witch Roto Witch® attachment is used for short bores underneath sidewalks, driveways and other obstacles. It offers great digging performance while minimizing jobsite restoration. Compatible with numerous Ditch Witch stand-on skid steers, the Roto Witch attachment can bore and backream up to 12" (300 mm) in diameter.
Compatible Models

SK600, SK800, SK900, SK1050, SK1550, SK1750

PLOWS
Install fiber and other utilities quickly with a vibratory plow attachment for your skid steer. It creates less ground disruption and cleanup than traditional trenching to get the job done faster. Available in maximum depths of 14" and 24".
Compatible Models

SK600, SK800, SK900, SK1050, SK1550, SK1750, SK3000

TRENCHER

Stay efficient on large jobsites with a trencher attachment for your skid steer. It’s a smart alternative to large, specialized equipment for utility installation and landscaping jobs. Available in standard 6”, 8” and 12” maximum widths with maximum depths of 36", 38", 48” and 55.5”.

Compatible Models

SK600, SK800, SK900, SK1050, SK1550, SK1750, SK3000