Expert tips to ensure your team gets the job done and comes home safe.


A successful hydroexcavation operation requires the right equipment and the right people. Replace either part of the equation with less than the best and your work will suffer.

A good truck
Don Schlomka, of Schlomka Vac Truck in Hastings, Minnesota, says the truck is the key. “You have to have a good truck you can count on and good operators to run it.” When you’re an operator, your truck is like an extension of yourself. It’s imperative to know the correct way to run, maintain and prep it for the next day’s work.

In order to make sure his guys are 100 percent adept, Schlomka provides ongoing training on the ins and outs of his trucks whenever he sees fit.

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“I have a good relationship with the guys I buy my trucks from. They will send over a trainer to come by and run through training anytime I call and ask.” His trucks are state of the art, and he’s proud to be able to provide his customers and operators with the technology that gets the job done in a safe, affordable and efficient manner. Schlomka depends on his trucks to be the ultimate beasts when it comes to superior suction and water pressure, and the bottom line is he delivers every time.

Armed with grounding pads
Working with water and electricity has the potential to be a recipe for disaster. In order to keep operators completely safe, they should be equipped with grounding pads at every job site.

If the unthinkable happens and a power line is accidentally hit, the grounding pad will instantly ground out the electrical current with no harm done to anyone. Providing excavators with this important means of safety is just one more way to protect the operators.

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Quality makes a difference
The natural elements are an operator’s everyday adversary. The only way to compete with the snow, rain and cold is to arm oneself with the highest quality of gear. According to Curran Clark of Crossfire LLC in the Four Corners region of Colorado, having rubberized neoprene boots, rubber-insulated gloves and a good pair of waterproof bibs are all a necessity.

“The weather is a major factor in our day-to-day operations: rain, snow, cold,” says Clark. “We dig with high-pressure water when it’s 20 below zero, and we do what we can to keep ourselves somewhat comfortable. Cold hands and feet could mean an operator is done for the day.”

Kirk Cundiss, another operator from Crossfire, would agree that a good pair of steel-toed boots is essential. “Not only are steel-toed boots OSHA required, but they provide a level of safety to our operators. Our guys utilize their feet to shield themselves, and in the past I’ve seen people get injured with water due to not wearing the right boots.”

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Operators staying safe
For all excavators, the probability of dealing with flying debris is a definite. Operators must have the proper equipment to adequately protect themselves and their faces.

From face shields to safety glasses or goggles, having the right equipment to ensure water and dirt don’t spray directly into one’s face is crucial. Every operator has his own preferences when it comes to safety wear. The important factor is having something that does the trick and keeps every man safe and comfortable. And don’t forget earplugs.

Equipment always makes a difference. In the case of working against the weather and in situations that can be challenging and uncomfortable, operators deserve to have the best of the best when it comes to equipment.

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It can get rough out there, and whatever it takes to make the day and the job a little bit easier is well worth it.


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