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Safety on the job emphasized at Estevan breakfast

A large crowd listened to an update from the SGCA, and then received safety tips through a video.
A large crowd of people attended the Saskatchewan Common Ground Alliance's breakfast for Estevan.

ESTEVAN - The Saskatchewan Common Ground Alliance (SCGA) brought its annual Contractor Dig Safe Breakfast to Estevan on Thursday.

A large crowd filled the Beefeater Plaza for the event. They listened to an update from the SGCA, and then received safety tips through a video presentation.

Kaleigh Churko, a journeyman electrician who works with Pembina Pipeline, served as the MC for the event. She noted that ground disturbances are part of her job, so the message presented at the breakfasts is important to her.

"I'm very proud to volunteer with the SCGA's public awareness and education committees to deliver this message," said Churko, who applauded the audience members for attending and the employers for allowing them to be present.

The breakfast is an opportunity to prevent those "oops" or "I didn't know" moments that sometimes occur, she said.

Reflecting on the importance of box cutting, Churko recalled one time on a job when she realized it was a congested area with some underground lines they might not know about, and so an inspection was carried out on the area.

"Sure enough, they box cut it nice and deep, find the pipe, find all the lines that were crossed there, but the GPS where they needed to work on the pipe was just a little bit shifted going north," said Churko.

"Well sure enough, instead of box cutting that little extra, they just went and dug it, and hit an abandoned line. Thank goodness it was empty – it was an old water line and it all worked out – but if you're going to assume, assume that there's something there, instead of going 'There's nothing there. We just marked it.'"

Churko pointed out there can be a lot of underground lines that have been abandoned since the 1970s or 1980s.

She also emphasized the importance of removing stakes. It's not good for the environment or for aesthetics to have the stakes left in the ground, and Churko cautioned farmers can accidentally drive over them with their equipment, forcing the producers to remove them.

"It's not up to the locator to go out there and clean them up for you," she said.

Churko noted it's also important to protect staff and the public by following safe traffic planning and necessary signage when working near roadways.

She noted that 2023 was a big year for the SCGA, highlighted by acquiring Sask 1st Call from SaskEnergy.

"It's actually been a really big change. So, our website and everything has changed. The mobile app has been updated. It may look different when you guys go on there, so there might be some things to learn, but it is a little bit better, and we want to hear from you guys to make it even better," said Churko.

People in attendance received lots of materials on the SCGA to spread awareness on the importance of safety.

The SCGA held breakfasts in 22 communities in April. A similar event was held in Carievale earlier in the month.