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Outside Plant Construction Guide

Review Of Fiber Optic Technology. 
Project Preparation And Guidelines.
Underground Cable Construction.
Underground Cable Installation.
Aerial Cable Installation.
Completing Outside Cable Plant Installation.

Project Preparation And Guidelines

Outside Plant Installations
Outside plant (OSP) installations of fiber optic cables can be much more diverse that other installations since every project is unique. OSP installs may include installing aerial cable, direct-buried cable, underground cable in conduit or installing conduit or innerduct and then pulling cable, or placing cable underwater. A single link may include several types of installation, for example aerial in one section, pulling in conduit on a bridge crossing and burying the rest of the cable. 

Cables may end when pulled into buildings or terminated at the top of poles where surveillance cameras or wireless access points are located. Splices where cables are concatenated can be placed in pedestals, buried underground or hung in aerial splice closures.

The diversity of OSP installation makes it extremely important for the contractor to know the route of the cable to be installed intimately. Like the estimator who should walk the route before beginning the estimating process, the contractor needs to see for themselves the actual situations they are going to encounter. That inspection allows them to determine what problems may be encountered, what special equipment may be needed and even double check that all the permits needed are in order.

This chapter covers many topics of relevance to OSP construction that should be considered as part of the overall project planning. For additional information on the design phase which initiates the project, refer to the FOA online Guide material or the textbook on fiber optic network design.
Environmental Considerations
It is the Contractor and/or Client’s responsibility to prepare a site-specific Environmental Management Plan (EMP). And, as ever, each site is unique and therefore the environmental issues to be considered will vary from site to site.
Environmental Control Officer (ECO)
Every project should start with the appointment of an Environmental Control Officer (ECO) that shall:
  • Prior to work commencing, unravel the requirements of the EMP to team members, to ensure understanding and conformity
  • Visit the site weekly
  • Review and approve all areas that have been rehabilitated by the Contractor
  • Keep a record of findings
  • Attend all project meetings
  • Produce a monthly report, for the client, with commentary on compliance and/or non-compliance
  •  Keep an Incident Log of non-compliance
  •  Maintain a record of complaints from the public and communicate this to the client
  •  Where necessary, issue a non-compliance report to the Contractor
  •  Where serious environmental infringements have occurred, introduce a Temporary Work Stoppage
  • Liaise with the appointed Occupational Health and Safety Officer of the client

The Contractor’s Environmental Management Plan (EMP) must include, but is not limited to:
  •   Statement of Commitment
  •   List of activity-specific environmental issues related to your site and their likely impact
  •   Incorporating the above, write a series of simple work instructions to ensure compliance
  •   Determine the actions required to manage each work instruction
  •   A list of tangible contingency and mitigating actions to be implemented if required
  •   Provide training to staff and create awareness
  •   An organisational chart setting out respective roles and responsibilities
  •   Monitoring and Reporting

Contractor Responsibilities must include, but is not limited to:
  •   Be familiar with and comply with the procedures contained in the EMP.
  •   Ensure that all personnel are trained, qualified and experienced enough, to undertake their work in an environmentally responsible manner.
  •   Create an awareness of the Environmental work requirements and the need for them amongst the workforce.
  •   Procedural briefings to be given before personnel carry out key activities for the first time.
  •   Ensure that personnel who have formal responsibilities under this plan, are trained in the requirements of this EMP.
  •   Undertake daily site inspections to monitor environmental performance and compliance.
  •   Immediately notify the ECO in the event of infringements.
  •   Notify the ECO and in advance of any activity he has reason to believe that may potentially have an adverse environmental impact.
  •   It is desirable for Environmental matters to be included as a standard agenda item at all project meetings.

Activity-specific Guideline Examples:
In what follows, are a few activity-based examples an EMP must contain, but is not limited to:
  •   Storm water must be contained in the storm water system to avert flooding.
  •   Measures must be implemented to distribute storm water as evenly as possible to fend-off soil erosion.
  •   Material from any stockpile must not be allowed to spill or be washed into a gutter or drain.
  •   The execution of any work shall not block and subsequently unsettle the existing overland water flow or the existing system of drains.
  •   No person may, without prior written permission release water onto a public road.
  •   No person may, without prior written permission raise the water level of a river, stream or dam which can spill-over onto a public road.
  •   Any water that is present in a trench shall be pumped out before backfilling.
  •   Water shall be pumped into the storm water system and never into a sewer manhole.
  •   No work shall be carried out within 32m of any natural water source without permission from the ECO.

Dust / Air Pollution
  •   Where necessary, issue workers with washable dust masks for protection against dust inhalation.
  •   Dust shall be controlled onsite, especially when windy.
  •   Minimize or even cease activity during periods of high wind.
  •   Dampen surfaces to prevent dust from becoming airborne.
  •   Cover materials being transported with plastic sheeting or a tarpaulin to prevent them from flying off the vehicle. Dampening of the transported material may also be necessary.
  •   Cover onsite stockpiles with plastic sheeting or tarpaulins during high wind.
  •   Regular maintenance of generators, compressors, etc., is essential for controlling exhaust emissions.

Noise Pollution
noise meter
  •   Contractors must abide by the National Noise laws.
  •   Develop a noise mitigation plan before starting with construction.
  •   The level of noise and the duration thereof must be agreed upon and monitored.
  •   Examples of noise: Jack hammers, concrete saws, bulldozers, trucks, generators,  compressors, pneumatic tools, power tools, etc.
  •   When talking to someone 1m away and you have to shout to make yourself heard, then noise levels are definitely too high.
  •   Hand-held sound meters are lightweight, easy to operate and relatively inexpensive.
  •   Hearing protection shall be worn at all times when noise levels are suspected of equalling or exceeding 85 dBA.

Noise PPE
  •   Use disposable earplugs only once
  •   Keep reusable earplugs clean
  •   Earmuffs must be a good fit

Construction Hours

Where possible, restrict construction work to weekdays and limit work hours from 08:00 to 17:00.
Should an extension of the work hours be required, the adjacent property owners shall be informed in writing 2-days in advance of any proposed overtime activities.
Whenever practical, when noise levels are identified as exceeding 85 dBA, Noise MUST be reduced by using mufflers, barriers, etc. or the following actions must be implemented once the source of the noise has been ascertained:
  •   Replacement or adjustment of the worn or loose parts
  •   Balancing unbalanced equipment
  •   Lubrication of the moving parts
  •   Use of properly shaped and sharpened cutting tools

  • Trees shall not be cut or trimmed unless consent is obtained in writing from the owner and/or the relevant authority.
  • Cutting shall be confined to what is absolutely necessary.
  • Tree roots exposed in the way of the trenching shall not be cut unless absolutely unavoidable.
Archaeology and Cultural Heritage
  • Even with no designated sites of archaeological sensitivity being identified along a route, the Contractor will be required to have measures in place to deal with potential finds protected by the appropriate laws and authorities.
  • Construction in the vicinity of a finding must be stopped and under no circumstance may any artefacts be disturbed or removed from the site.
  • An archaeologist can be called to the site for inspection and the South African Heritage Agency must be advised.
Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA)
An ESA is a type of designation for an agricultural area which needs special protection because of its landscape, wildlife or historical value.
Such designated areas shall be dubbed “no go” areas and access to, or work in such areas, shall be carefully controlled by the ECO.
Concrete / Cement
  • Concrete shall not be mixed directly on the ground.
  • All visible remains of excess concrete shall be removed and disposed at an approved disposal site.
  • Cement shall be stored in a dry place, protected from rain and raised off the floor.
Bird Nests
Birds nests                                                                                                                           
Bird nests on overhead routes cannot be moved, unless consent is obtained in writing from the relevant authority.                                                                                      
It is desirable to erect the aerial cable above or below a nest such as this.          
Hazardous Substances and Materials
  • Examples of hazardous substances / materials: gasoline, diesel, petroleum, oil, cement, lubricants, drilling fluid, pesticides, herbicides, etc.
  • All potential hazardous or polluting materials shall be stored as far away from drainage inlets as possible.
  • Storage areas must be designated, demarcated and fenced and, the necessary firefighting equipment shall be maintained on site.
Fiber Optic Cable Disposal
Skip bins can be filled over a one week or longer period before collection and waste disposal. This service is efficient, cost effective and guarantees the customer peace of mind knowing that their waste will be disposed of in a legal and ethical manner. Services are available to remove waste or recycle cables.
General Health and Safety Guidelines
It is important to adopt an approach that minimizes or better still, eliminates possible accidents.
Responsibility of Management
It is the responsibility of management to ensure that all team members and supervisors are trained and familiar with applicable safe working practices, and that they take immediate and decisive action when safe and approved work methods are not followed.
Responsibility of Supervisors
It is the responsibility of the supervisors to ensure that each member of his team wears the required PPE and to ensure that the work area is protected by the use of the necessary signs, cones, flashing lights, traffic control personnel, etc. Personal protective equipment (PPE) refers to protective clothing, hard hats, safety glasses, or other garments or equipment designed to protect the wearer's body from injury. On top of this, practice safe and approved work methods, as generally outlined in this Manual.
Each Party must at all times comply with health and the safety legislation, regulations and  guidelines (e.g. OSHA in the US), which must include, but is not limited to:
A competent person shall, before the commencement of any construction work, perform a risk assessment which shall be written into the health and safety plan to mitigate risks and shall include:
  •   Activity-specific hazard and risk identification.
  •   Assess and evaluate each identified hazard and risk and rank them i.e. high, medium or low.
  •   The best way to protect people is to eliminate the hazard or risk and second best, minimize it.

All areas used by the public shall be maintained free from debris or equipment that may constitute slipping, tripping, or any other hazard.
Adhere to all the health and safety management plan procedures.
Develop and obtain approval for a Traffic Management Plan (TMP).
Report and record all Work Site accidents, incidents and property damaged.
Establishing safe air space requirements prior to the use of lifting and construction equipment.
All personnel shall be required to wear the following personal protective equipment (PPE):
  •   Protective overall (at all times).
  •   As a general rule, steel-toed safety boots should be worn at all times.
  •   Hard hat (when performing work that requires the use thereof).
  •   Safety glasses (when performing work that requires the use thereof).
  •   Work gloves help prevent cuts and bruises from sharp or rough edges on pipe/ducts and other objects.
  •   Wear high-visibility vests (at all times).

The contractor shall ensure that all necessary guards, protective structures and warning signs are used to protect both workers and third parties. All necessary barriers and fences shall be erected to guide pedestrians and traffic around the work area.
A first aid box will be provided and allocated to a trained, certified first aider. Every injury occurring on site must be treated and recorded. Should an injury require professional medical treatment, the supervisor in charge must complete an accident report. Ensure that the first aid kit is available and accessible, correctly stocked and a register exists to account for used/missing items.
Training And Certification
All employees, management personnel and visitors shall undergo induction training carried out by the Site Manager or a designated deputy before going onto site for the first time. Inductions records shall be kept on site for the duration of the project. Certifications such as the FOA CFOT or CFOS should be considered as requirements for working on fiber construction projects.
Typical Table of Contents for a Site Safety File
1.    Notification of Construction Work
2.      Letter of Good Standing
3.    Organogram
4.    Health & Safety Policy
5.    Health & Safety Plan
6.    Environmental Policy
7.    Environmental Plan
8.    Waste Management Plan
9.    Fall Protection Plan
10. Emergency Plan
11. Emergency Contact Numbers
12. List of Sub Contractors
13. 37.2 & 5.3.b Legal Agreement
14. Appointments
15. Certificates of Competency
16. Risk Assessments
17. Induction Records
18. Toolbox Talks
19. Inspection Registers
20. Visitors Register
21. Complaints Register
22. Site Diary
23. Weekly Statistics
24. Safety Minutes
25. Audit Template
26. Vehicle List
27. Incident Records
28. Client’s SHE Specification
29. Public Liability Insurance

Traffic Management Plan (examples)
No work should commence on a public roadway without first obtaining a wayleave from the road authority concerned. It is the responsibility of the supervisor/s to ensure that each member of his crew wears the required PPE and to ensure that the work area is protected by the use of the various signs, cones, flashing lights, traffic control personnel, etc.
  •   Traffic movement shall be inhibited as little as possible. Should this be unavoidable, alternative access to routes must be made available.
  •   Work carried out on busy roads, should be restricted to outside the following periods; from 06:30 to 09:00 and 15:30 to 18:00, to ensure the free flow of traffic during peak hours.
  •   Roads shall be kept free of debris or equipment. Excavated material unsuitable for re-use shall be removed from site as soon as possible.
  •   Where cyclists and/or pedestrians are likely to be present, their need for safe and convenient passage must be considered and sufficient, safe crossings shall be planned for.
  •   Create ‘no go’ zones around hazardous areas and implement safe work distances.
  •   Choose signs with messages clearly indicating the actions drivers or pedestrians are required to take.
  •   Where necessary, traffic control persons shall be used to provide positive guidance to motorists.
  •   Remember that the visibility of hazards/workers can be greatly diminished in darkness and/or poor weather conditions.

Selecting Signs
traffic signs

Choose signs that are appropriate; signs that accurately describe the work situation.
Start with general sign messages at the beginning of the work zone. Then use signs with more specific messages, stating what action should be taken, closer to the actual work area.
The overall effect of signs should be to make drivers aware of what they are approaching and what action(s) will be required of them.
Drive through checks should be made every so often, both at night and day, to ensure that signs are properly located to allow adequate driver response time.
Use only signs that appear in the local Road Traffic Signs Manual.
Signs must be kept clean and well maintained if they are to be effective.

traffic management

Flagging PPE and Communication
  •   A high-visibility reflective vest
  •   A white hard hat
  •   Steel-toed safety boots
  •   Full length pants or coveralls - no shorts
  •   During rainy weather, highly visible rainwear

traffic control

When two flaggers are used, they can communicate verbally or visually if they are close enough to each other.
It is desirable to appoint one of the flaggers as the coordinator.
Where the end of a one-lane section is not visible from the other end, the flaggers must communicate via two-way radio.
The safety of workers and the travelling public, while passing through the construction area, depends on the efficient actions of flag persons.
A Warning Flag Signal may also be used to warn a road user to proceed slowly, and be alert of a hazard in or adjacent to the roadway ahead.
A good, active flag person can be as effective as any other means of drawing attention to a hazard in the roadway.
Wayleaves (Easements)
A Wayleave is permission to use someone else’s property to deploy infrastructure. This is also known as a right-of-way or an easement.
Wayleave’s will indicate the positions of all other services. So, on “paper”, we should not “hit” anything. This can prove to be as misguidedly optimistic: “Never assume anything!” Fortunately, most of us are somewhat sceptical about the accuracy of the information presented in a Wayleave (a project can have many of them). There is little doubt that a pre-build survey set to verify the exact location of services indicated (or not) in Wayleave’s, will do no harm.
A Wayleave agreement must be obtained prior to installing any telecommunications equipment.
Companies doing work in a Road Reserve shall at all times keep a copy of the Wayleave on site.
Companies must familiarise themselves with the Standards and special conditions as set out in this permit.
Companies are held responsible and accountable for the quality of work they deliver, as well as any objectionable actions by their workforce.
Pre-Build Procedures
A fiber installation project is a major undertaking. Responsibility for the oversight of everything from detailed implementation plans to community relations, ensuring sufficient materials are ordered in a timely manner to safety and environmental concerns, means an intense amount of pre-work and ongoing coordination for the life of a project.
As an unfaltering believer in a pre-build survey: The verification of details contained in pre-build drawings, will ensure that potential problem areas are uncovered before the contemplated work kicks-off and potentially save one a lot of trouble later.
Using the information available on the pre-build drawings, walk the pegged out route by foot, to determine the following:
  •   Verify the soil classification/s by digging a pilot hole every 1km (hard, intermediate, soft)
  •   If the soils or soil properties are not what were expected as noted in the contract, the client must immediately be consulted
  •   Check and verify above and below ground utility locations
  •   Note changes in gradient and/or direction
  •   Identify all obvious landmarks where the route changes direction (take photos)
  •   Take photos of all obstacles along the route
  •   Verify HH / MH positions
  •   Note road / rail crossings
  •   Record crossings with other services
  •   Record the presence of structures near the trench
  •   Double-check the recorded details on the return journey
  •   The route is typically marked using lime

Pre-Build Survey Equipment and Tools
  •   Smartphone camera or digital camera and spare batteries
  •   GPS with tracking function and spare batteries (may be available in digital camera or smartphone)
  •   DCP or CPT tester. Dynamic Cone Penetration (DCP) testing is used to measure the strength of in-situ soil and the thickness and location of subsurface soil layers. Cone penetration or cone penetrometer test (CPT) is another method used to determine the engineering properties of soils.
  •   Tape measure
  •   Measuring wheel
  •   Clip board, note book and stationary
  •   Route drawing/s from the client
  •   Reflector jacket
  •    Personal Identification and authorization for the project

Armed with the survey formation, a Project Management Plan can be developed, to ensure on time delivery, within budget and with high quality.
Contractor’s Site Camp Establishment / Holding Area
On large projects, a contractor may need to provide for a construction site camp / safe holding area, which includes office accommodation. The site location must be at a convenient point and as close as possible to the work site. The contractor must provide for a safe holding area to store all material obtained from the client. The contractor will bear all interrelated costs associated with securing the property and the camp establishment.
The camp must be sufficient in size to accommodate all material and equipment required for the project. The site camp should be fittingly fended and have lockable gates. It should have a suitable office in compliance with local authority requirements. The site must provide for sanitary facilities in compliance with local authority requirements. Phone and Internet services should be provided. On completion of the project, the contractor shall reinstate the camp establishment to its original state or better.
Businesses / property owners shall be informed one week (7-days) in advance of any construction activities commencing in the vicinity of their properties. These notices will announce upcoming work tasks and potential impacts, such as traffic, parking, and access changes, noise, utility interruptions, vibration, etc. If a private driveway or footway constructed with non-standard materials is to be excavated, the owner of the property concerned must be informed in advance and in writing of the intended work.
Private Property
Where possible, excavations on private property shall not be left open outside normal working hours (08:00 to 17:00).  The Contractor shall be responsible for the protection of all trees, shrubs, fences, and other landscape items adjacent to or within the work area. Occupants of the properties must be kept informed at all times of how their access will be affected.
When trenching through entrances to properties, access must be maintained by using steel plates or other temporary bridges of ample strength and, it must be well secured against movement.
Where a Contractor must undertake tree and bush cutting and/or shrub clearing he must prior to undertaking such work, obtain approval in writing from the relevant authority and/or property owner. The Contractor shall dispose of all cuttings and cleared material.
All drainage systems must be cleared daily.
Surfaces shall always be reinstated to the original state or better. The Contractor shall be solely responsible and accountable to remedy any damages and/or claims, arising due to his activities.
Post Installation Repair And Reinstatements         
Reinstatement work must be done by The Roads & Storm Water Department unless a wayleave indicates otherwise. Should the wayleave holder do the permanent reinstatement, a 12-month guarantee period commences from the date of completion. Should the wayleave holder do a temporary reinstatement, a 2-week maintenance period commences from the date of completion.                                                                                                                                        
Grassed areas shall be reinstated using the original turf, replacement turf or an equivalent seed. Any constructed footway must be reinstated with the same surfacing materials that existed originally (e.g. concrete blocks, slabs, etc.). Material may be reused if undamaged, or else replaced with similar material.
Remedial work will be required if any of the following defects exists: depressions (resulting in standing water), humps (crowning), edge depression or cracking. The performance of any trench permanently reinstated by the authorized person will be monitored for twelve (12) months, during which period the authorized person will be held responsible for any remedial work that may be required.
Any excavation left unattended for a period of more than 5-days can be made safe by the road authority and charged to the contractor.
Road Reinstatement

The permanent reinstatement of the surfacing typically consists of 100 mm hot-mix asphalt. The lower 70 mm must be compacted and rolled asphaltic black base (26.5 mm nominal stone size, continuously graded) and the top 30 mm (4.75 mm nominal stone size, continuously graded). Cold-mix may be used only for temporary reinstatement. The reinstated surfacing must be at least 100 mm wider than the trench on both sides to accommodate any edge breaks.
On completion of the work concerned the authorized person must fill in a completion notice and return it to the road authority within twenty-four (24) hours. The road authority will then arrange a site meeting to do an inspection and to issue a certificate of completion if all requirements have been met.
A twelve (12) month guarantee period for permanent reinstatement by the wayleave holder, or the fourteen (14) day maintenance period for temporary reinstatement by the authorized person, commences on the day after the issue of the certificate of completion.
Rubbish, and other objectionable material of any kind, must be legally disposed of, absolving the client from any liability connected therewith.

(C) 2018 The Fiber Optic Association Inc.
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(C)1999-2020, The Fiber Optic Association, Inc.