Improving Safety in Augering for Powerline Installations 


Augering plays a crucial role in creating underground pathways for powerline installations. While efficient, it can also be hazardous if safety protocols are not strictly followed. Here’s how to prioritise safety during augering for powerline projects: 

Pre-Dig Planning and Ground Analysis 

Underground Utility Locating: Before any digging commences, locate and mark all existing underground utilities like gas lines, water pipes and communication cables. This minimises the risk of accidental strikes, potential explosions and service disruptions. Several methods exist, including electromagnetic locators and ground penetrating radar. 

Ground Analysis: Understanding the soil composition is vital. Sandy or loose soil conditions can lead to cave-ins. Clayey or rocky terrain may necessitate specialised augering equipment. Knowing the ground allows for selection of the appropriate boring technique (horizontal directional drilling, displacement boring, etc.) and safeguards against potential complications. 

Safety Gear and Crew Training 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Equipping crews with high-visibility vests, hard hats, safety glasses, gloves and sturdy boots is paramount. Hearing protection is essential due to engine noise. For deep excavations, consider respiratory protection against dust. 

Crew Training: Workers should be thoroughly trained on operating augering equipment safely. This includes proper handling techniques, emergency shut-off procedures and hazard recognition. Trainings should cover recognising potential ground instability and appropriate responses. 

Safety Briefings: Conduct regular safety briefings before each project. These briefings should reiterate critical safety protocols, discuss specific job-site hazards and encourage open communication for any safety concerns. 

Auger Selection and Operation 

Choosing the Right Auger: Selecting the most suitable auger for the job is crucial. Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) is often preferred for minimising surface disruption. For shallow installations, consider using directional boring machines. Matching the auger’s capabilities to the ground conditions and project needs ensures efficient operation and reduces the risk of equipment failure or getting stuck underground. 

Ground Stability Measures: Shoring or trench boxes might be necessary to prevent cave-ins during deep augering in loose soil. For horizontal directional drilling, monitor the drilling mud consistency to maintain proper hole stability. 

Safe Operation Practices: Maintain a safe distance between the auger and bystanders. Ensure all crew members are aware of the auger’s operational zone and potential hazards. Always follow the manufacturer’s operating guidelines for the specific auger model. 

Additional Considerations 

Weather Conditions: Avoid augering during heavy rain or strong winds. Wet or saturated ground is more prone to collapse and strong winds can affect equipment stability. 

Emergency Preparedness: Have a clear emergency response plan in place. This includes designating first-aid providers, having easy access to emergency contact information and outlining procedures for responding to equipment failure or injuries. 

By prioritising these safety measures and adopting a proactive approach, powerline installation companies can significantly reduce the risks associated with augering. Choosing the right equipment for the job site conditions and proper crew training are fundamental aspects of ensuring a safe and efficient augering operation. 

Here at Tebco, we can assist you in selecting the right set of augers, rock saws, pole installation rigs and trucks to cover all your powerline installation needs. This way, you can get the job done safely and efficiently. Learn more about our expertise and product line by visiting this page.