WE provide leadership, promote safety, and enhance the value and reputation of the underground facility locating industry in Canada.

Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a UFL?

The Underground Facility Locator (UFL) performs skilled and semi-skilled work of routine difficulty locating underground facility lines, and performs related work as required. The UFL is responsible for locating underground facility lines within urban and rural settings, and for creating and updating maps and records indicating the approximate alignment of underground facilities. 

What is the status of UFL education in Alberta? 

Currently there is no governing body which sets the standards, or develops or controls the existing curriculum for consistency purposes for UFL training in Alberta. There is no standard of competence, nor a system in place to measure competence. There are several general courses available for those new to the industry, from providers such as Enform, Global, and EMLOC; however, being only 1 or 2 day courses, they are limited in the depth of study provided. 

What are the benefits of Certification? 

Before the benefits of provincially recognized standards of competency can be fully appreciated; the consequences of poor locating practices should be addressed. Each instance of underground facility damage creates an opportunity for a major disaster. Underground assets carry dangerous substances and/or stored potential energy (high voltage, high pressure) that have the potential to cause loss of life or contamination may cause long-term harm to the soil, vegetation, the watershed, wildlife, and people who live nearby. Accurate locating is essential to protect public safety in areas where dangerous substances are transmitted underground.

Industry Statistics?

In 2011, the Alberta One-Call center received 1412 reports of underground facility damage. Not all buried facility owners are required by legislation to report damages to a central agency, therefore the true number and root cause of underground line strikes in Alberta is unknown at this time. The Common Ground Alliance collects information on underground utility damage throughout the United States, and a portion of Canada, with the Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT). In 2011 the number of ‘events’ submitted to DIRT was 207,779; events being defined as “the occurrence of downtime, damages, and near misses.” Of the submitted events, DIRT reports that 22% of those were caused by insufficient locating practices. 

How does a Designated Occupation differ from a Trade? 

A designated occupation differs from a designated trade in that training is not a requirement under a designated occupation. A worker would not require an occupational certificate to be employed as a UFL; however, the Task Force is of the view that certified workers would have an advantage as locating companies would likely make certification a hiring requirement. 

How would competency be achieved, measured & maintained? 

Applicants for certification in a designated occupation may achieve the required competencies in many ways. Some designated occupations have formal training; some may have only work experience; and some may have a combination of formal training and work experience. An industry committee is responsible for determining the competencies required for certification.

Competency is measured through the successful completion of a written multiple choice exam, administered by the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training. If success the applicant will be granted an Occupational Certificate. The industry occupational committee will be responsible for reviewing the certification requirements and applicable regulations as required to continue to meets industry needs.

How will the program recognize existing skills held by workers? 

In lieu of acquiring competency through the recommended training process, an experienced worker is permitted to challenge the provincially administered written exam in order to be certified. An experienced worker will be defined by the examination development occupational committee. 

What does it cost, and who will pay for it?

Industry is responsible for most of the development, implementation, and maintenance of Designated Occupation programs. Government and/or industry may fund the development and maintenance of certification standards and assessment tools. Government does not provide or fund the cost of formal training for designated occupations

Industry financially supports the process by participating on occupational committees established or recognized by the board, on a volunteer basis. These committees identify the competencies to be recognized, requirements for certification, development and administration of training as well as the assessment process. 

Once the program is established, the estimated administration and certification fee is approximately $150.00. Although the individual would be responsible for the fee, precedence established throughout Alberta suggests industry will be willing to pay the proposed certification fee. The individual’s employer may pay the fee or reimburse the employee for costs. The fees will be paid only upon application for certification; and, there will be no annual fees.


PO Box 925, Station T
Calgary, AB T2H 2H4

Phone: 1-888-492-8279

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