Why are all those people just standing around looking in the hole?

Why are all those people just standing around?  Why aren’t they working?  Reasonable  questions.  Actually, all those people are working and each and every one of them is there for a reason. They represent all the concerns involved in determining the work to be done in “the hole.”  More than likely the heavy equipment operator has run into something unexpected during the dig.  Now everyone needs to weigh-in on what is to be done.  The cast of characters standing around the hole could be a few or as many as all of the following:  

  • the crew boss who’s supervising the earth moving work
  • the project manager who’s assessing what costs there may be associated with potential remedies
  • the owner of the equipment or utility that has been unearthed in the hole, possibly Comcast, Seattle City Light or Seattle Public Utilities
  • the department safety officer (or possibly an Occupational Safety and Health Administration representative)
  • the inspector from SDOT’s  Street Use division or the Department of Planning and Development
  • the equipment operator who dug the hole
  • the spotter who watches out for the equipment operator and potential dangers involved

Finding the unexpected isn’t the only scenario for a number of people appearing to be doing nothing at a construction site.  They may be waiting for someone to shut off a valve or deliver materials in order to complete the work. SDOT strives to provide safe access for everyone using the right-of-way with minimal interruptions to their travel.  This forces the construction to be sequenced so that it minimizes the impact to the public.

We hope this answers any questions.  Perhaps the next time you see a crowd of workers “just standing around,” you’ll be able to empathize with them and understand their predicament!