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4 Ways to Make Hydrovac Safer and More Efficient

Aug. 7, 2019

Hydrovac has been a popular method of excavation in Canada longer than most nations (the UK is a prime example of where the method hasn’t really taken flight yet).

Hydrovac or ‘Daylighting’ as it’s otherwise known is generally a much safer and more efficient process than digging by hand or with mechanical excavators however there are many prerequisites to it being low risk and effective.  We’ve learnt some tips over the years from working with Hydrovac companies on what good practice looks like. Here are just a few useful aspects to consider:

1. Pre-planning meetings and inspections
Like with any project if you fail to prepare, you can prepare to fail. Hydro excavation is no different.  If it’s a routine operation, lots of planning is likely not needed for highly skilled operators but for unusual or tricky projects, pre-planning meetings are key.  Pre-inspections of the site, no matter what the difficulty, should be the norm so that you can look out for gas/water meters, overhead powerlines, safety hazards (for example if the site is near a school or on a corner of a road) or any other obstructions. 

2. Pre-marking of boundaries
This one sounds simple but outlining the area with white paint or flags is key for nearly all types of excavation- pre-marking ensures better accuracy and accuracy is one of the key benefits of daylighting.

3. Keep safety as your number 1 priority
Safety in any operation is the number one priority and having pre-planning meetings, inspections and pre-marking boundaries are all ways of ensuring the highest safety for the operators. PPE is also key, and this should never be compromised- if you don’t have the right protective equipment, it’s simply not worth the risk. Trained and competent operators are also paramount in achieving safety. These operators will know when it is safe to “blast”, when it’s better to simply “wash down” and how to protect the general public around the area too.

4. Consider the waste burden- and do something about it!
The most efficient and cost-effective hydrovac processes are those that consider the waste burden that the process brings- and deal with it effectively. Before we worked with many of our customers, their norm was to add sawdust or other drying agents to the muds in order to absorb the wet waste before landfilling. This, although effective in drying, meant the waste was solidified but not dewatered. Not only is sawdust an expensive commodity but landfill is a costly outlet too. Processing the hydro excavation muds is key in decreasing this cost-burden. Dewatering and treating the muds is a much more sustainable approach: one that decreases the weight of the waste going to landfill, the logistical burden to the team, and the impact on the environment.

For more information on the part we play in hydro excavation waste processing, visit our solutions page or get in touch at

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