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    Seven Tips to Prevent Jobsite Theft


    HDD equipment, tooling and other supplies are worth a lot of money for thieves looking to make a quick buck. To help prevent your jobsite from becoming a criminal’s next target, Vermeer Customer Training Lead Dan Vroom offers up these easy-to-follow tips.

    ·  Observe your surroundings: Every jobsite is different, so it's important to do a little research when your crew is moving onto a site. If the area you’re working in seems unsafe to leave equipment unattended, don’t take chances. Load everything onto trailers and take it with you at night.

    ·  Secure your directional drill: Before leaving the jobsite for an extended period, the drill operator should take a few minutes to ensure the following is secured:

    o  Make sure drill rod shields are in place to help prevent thieves from stealing rods.

    o  Put the cover on the operator display and lock it to prevent costly vandalism.

    o  Remove drill housing and bits or keep the drill head in the ground.

    o  Create a barrier around the directional drill and other equipment using barrier fencing or cones.

    o  Take equipment keys with you, and if the drill has a cab, lock that too.

    ·  Lockout your drill: All Vermeer directional drills are equipped with a remote lockout system, which gives the locator or appropriate crew member the ability to disable the thrust, rotation and drilling fluid flow during operations. The remote lockout system will also prevent the machine from starting, so it can help prevent a thief from starting and moving your drill when you’re not around.

    ·  Keep a clean and organized jobsite: Unlike other construction sites, HDD sites can span from several blocks to an entire neighborhood. From shovels to locating equipment and tooling, everything your crew uses on a regular basis should have a place where it is stored at night. Someone also needs to confirm it is all there before it is locked up, because when supplies or tools get left unattended, it's an open invitation for thieves.

    ·  Make crew members responsible for what they use every day: Just like assigning daily responsibilities for maintenance, make sure every crew member knows what they are responsible for putting away at the end of the day. For example, locators are among the most common items stolen from an HDD jobsite. Make sure the person who last used the locator that day knows it's their responsibility to have it in his or her possession at all times unless locked in a jobsite storage trailer or in the cab of a truck.

    ·  Lock up: While it may seem like ensuring your storage trailer and onsite vehicles are locked up, most jobsite stories start with “Well, we thought we had everything locked up.” Check and double-check to make sure anything that can be locked is. If a few people can lift a machine, like a pump or a generator, make sure it is locked inside an enclosure. Trailers should have hitch locks so they don’t disappear. Finally, theft doesn’t just happen at night, so be sure to lock trailers and trucks anytime they are left unattended.

    ·  Label or brand your equipment: Thieves looking to make a quick dollar from selling your equipment don’t want to have to paint over or remove your company’s logo and phone number. If your equipment does go missing, it will be a lot easier to identify if it has your company’s name on it.

    Bonus — Add GPS to your most valuable equipment: Even if you follow these tips, theft can still happen, which is one of the benefits of having GPS added to your equipment. GPS will allow you to track your equipment and improve your chances of catching the criminals that took it in the first place. You can add Vermeer Fleet — a productive tool with GPS — so you know exactly where your machine is on most Vermeer Navigator® Series II and S3 horizontal directional drill models.

    To learn more about jobsite safety, visit Vermeer.com.


    Vermeer and Navigator are trademarks of Vermeer Manufacturing Company in the U.S. and/or other countries.

    © 2018 Vermeer Corporation. All Rights Reserved. 

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    Establishing a Safe HDD Jobsite


    A directional drilling jobsite isn’t a typical construction site. For instance, it is common for horizontal direction drilling (HDD) crews to be working next to roadways or near pedestrians. Also, the equipment is frequently moved throughout the day, and many sites are spread out. To keep crew members and everyone near the drilling jobsite safe, contractors should establish an operating routine that involves several steps before work begins.

    According to Dan Vroom, customer training lead at Vermeer, the first step for creating a safer jobsite starts with reading and understanding the operator’s manual of the equipment the crew will be using. “Anyone operating machinery, whether it's a horizontal directional drill, a vacuum excavation system or an excavator needs to spend some time familiarizing themselves with the machine’s operator’s manual,” he said. “It contains valuable information, including proper machine operations, personal protection equipment requirements and safety precautions that should be part of a company’s standard operating procedures.”

    Pre-bore planning

    As crews prepare for a job, it is important to make sure that all known utility lines in the work area have been marked, either by a utility locating service or by the individual utilities. When in doubt about whether a locate has been done, make a call to the specific company to be sure.

    “Contractors should also make sure they have emergency phone numbers for all the local utility companies, emergency services, the job’s foreman and co-workers before they start working,” said Vroom. “If something goes wrong on the jobsite, this will help reduce the amount of time it takes to notify the appropriate people.”


    In the United States, OSHA requires the location of underground utilities to be determined before boring begins. It is the contractor’s responsibility to expose each utility near the bore to verify the exact location of those utilities. Potholing using a vacuum excavation system or soft excavation method like a shovel, are a safe way to fully expose existing utility lines.

    For hard surfaces such as concrete, a core saw may be used to cut a small access hole through the surface.

    Setting up the jobsite

    When loading and unloading equipment onto trailers, make sure the trailer is on level ground and drive the HDD slowly off the ramps. Equipment should never be unloaded if the trailer surface is slick from mud, ice or snow, because that can cause the machine to slide off the trailer. Be sure to place traffic warning cones around the trailer and the truck. Some cities may require additional traffic warning devices for loading and unloading equipment along roadways — be sure crew members understand what those are.

    Once the directional drill is positioned on the site, crew members need to insert the voltage stake into the ground at least 6 feet (1.8 m) away from the machine and not over the drill string. “The electrical Strike Alert system on Vermeer directional drills uses two circuits: The first circuit measures current flow up the drill pipe, and the other measures differences in voltage between the drill and the earth ground,” explained Vroom.

    Next, cones should be placed on all four sides of the drill to create a barrier around the drill. Vroom also says crews should use safety signs that warn unauthorized people to stay away. “Only trained personnel wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) should be allowed inside the perimeter of the cones,” he added.

    Wearing the appropriate PPE, the operator can then sit on the drill to stake it to the ground, which will keep it from moving during the thrusting and pulling of the drilling process. No other crew members should be within the cone area during this part of the process.

    Marking holes

    All exposure pits and entry/exits pits along the bore path need to be marked and/or barricaded. Potholes also need to be covered to prevent pedestrian accidents.

    Testing Remote Lockout system

    Vermeer directional drills are equipped with a Remote Lockout system, which gives the locator or appropriate crew member the ability to disable the thrust, rotation and drilling fluid flow during operations. Once locked out, movement of the drill stem cannot be restarted until the Remote Lockout system had been disengaged.

    “Crews should test their drill’s Remote Lockout system daily," said Vroom. “The locator should have the lockout remote with them during drilling operations. Also, the machine must be locked out before working on or near an exposed drill string or tool.”

    Jobsite safety needs to be a priority before work begins to establish a safe jobsite. Make sure no crew members are taking shortcuts or unnecessary risks that could lead to an accident.

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    Personal Protective Equipment for Directional Drilling Checklist


    Is everyone on your crew outfitted with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the jobsite? As importantly, are they actually wearing it?

    On horizontal directional drilling (HDD) jobsites, OSHA and Vermeer guidelines dictate that every crew member must wear the following PPE:

    • Eye protection
    • Hard hats
    • Hearing protection
    • Safety shoes (steel-toe or composite-toe boots)
    • Safety vests when working around roadways
    • Leather gloves when changing out tooling or handling heavy materials

    For crew members working near the bore path, electrically insulated boots need to be worn since the ground may become electrically charged if a strike occurs. Also, electrically insulated boots and electrically insulated gloves should be worn by anyone placing the voltage sensor in the ground, or standing on the ground while touching the directional drill. This includes any crew members manually loading rods into the rod box.

    Crew members should not wear the following items because they can catch on rotating equipment and cause an injury.

    • Loose clothing
    • Rings
    • Wristwatches
    • Necklaces
    • Bracelets
    • Long hair (should be tied back)

    Keep in mind, the only way PPE can protect you is if you’re wearing it. It’s not enough to simply have it sitting in the truck. Every member of your crew must wear it every day, because you never know when an accident could occur.

    It is important to remember that PPE will eventually wear out. Make sure everyone’s PPE is in good shape and replace items when needed.

    And finally, always consult your HDD operator’s manual for PPE guidelines pertaining to that specific machine. 

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    Keeping crews safe in trenches


    Did you know that one cubic yard (0.76 cubic meters) of dirt can weigh as much as a car? That’s one of the reasons why working safely around an open trench should be everyone’s top priority on the job. Trench cave-in poses a high risk and is more likely than other excavation-related incidents to result in a fatality. And, according to OSHA, excavation and trenching are among the most hazardous construction operations.

    Starts with education

    Educating contractors about proper trench safety procedures has been a longtime focus at Vermeer. Over the last several years, Vermeer and other manufacturers have helped the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) promote trench safety and develop safety materials for use throughout the industry. In addition, the training group at Vermeer regularly works with dealers and customers to make sure they understand OSHA’s guidelines on how to keep workers safe around open trenches.

    According to Vermeer Product Safety Manager Darin Dux, no one wants to work unsafely, but sometimes workers don’t have all the knowledge they need to make good decisions. “Unforeseen risks like soil variability, the effect of previous excavations and moisture have to be made known,” he said. “Everyone on a crew must fully understand these potential hazards before entering even a shallow trench.”

    Creating a safety-first culture

    It is essential for contractors to have safety programs in place for their employees. “Commit to training your workers and make sure everyone on your crew reads OSHA’s ‘Trenching and Excavation Safety’,” said Dux. “AEM and many manufacturers have additional training and programs available.”

    There is important safety information included in every Vermeer trencher’s operator’s manual. Dux says all equipment operators should read and understand the operator’s manual before they get behind the controls of a new machine.

    Safety on the job

    In addition to safety training, operators should learn proper trenching and excavation techniques. “Sloping and benching methods should be used to prepare trench excavation areas safely,” explained Dux. “Crews should use proper shoring and shielding systems for trench wall protection.”

    Dux adds that safety protocol needs to be followed every time, even if a trench is shallow. “The weight and pressure of collapsed soil on legs alone can cut off circulation and create a fatal condition due to lack of circulation. And in deeper trenches, it can take several hours to extract someone from a collapse. A fatality in this situation is likely.”

    For information on equipment safety, visit Vermeer.com.