Before You Dig, Call 811

Earth mover heavy contractor equipmetnDid you know that there is a specially designated number you should call before starting any digging projects? 811 is the (free) phone number you need to call before digging to protect yourself and others from unintentionally hitting underground utility lines.

There are millions of miles of buried utilities beneath the surface of the earth that we don't even think about but are vital to everyday living like water, electricity and natural gas. By simply calling, you'll help prevent unintended consequences such as injury to you or your family, damage to your property, utility service outages to the entire neighborhood and potential fines and repair costs.

Most contractors know that they need to find out what’s underground before beginning to break ground, but there may be some finer points of safe digging that you’re not aware of.

How exactly does this 811 thing work?

Simply call 811 from anywhere in the country a few days prior to digging, and your call will be routed to your local call center. Tell the operator where you're planning to dig. Your affected local utility companies will be notified about your intent to dig and will send locators to your dig site to mark the approximate location of buried lines with flags or paint.

When can I begin my digging project?

Wait for the marks! Utilities will mark their buried lines on your dig site. Most crews will arrive to mark your dig site with paint or flags within a few days and will make sure you know where to avoid digging so you don't hit buried utilities. Remember there may be multiple utility lines in the same area. Be sure to check your state laws for specific information. It's also a good idea to call and confirm that all affected utility operators have responded to your request and located accurately. (State laws vary on the process for confirmation; check with your local one-call center for more information.)

It's finally time!

Now it's time to roll up your sleeves and get to work - but respect the marks! Make sure to always dig carefully around the marks, not on them. State laws generally prohibit the use of mechanized equipment within 18-24 inches of a marked utility, which is called the “tolerance zone”. If you must dig near the marks, hand dig or use vacuum excavation to expose the facility. After exposing the facility, avoid using mechanized equipment within the same tolerance zone.

The marks provided by the affected utility operators are your guide for the duration of your project. If you are unable to maintain the marks during your project, or the project will continue past your request’s expiration date, please call 811 to ask for a re-mark. In addition, if excavation equipment is removed from a work site for more than two (2) business days, you must notify the call center again.

Also keep in mind that some utility lines may be buried at a shallow depth, and an unintended shovel thrust can bring you right back to square one - facing potentially dangerous and/or costly consequences. Don't forget that erosion or root structure growth may shift the locations of your utility lines, so remember to call again each time you are planning a digging job. Safe digging is no accident!

Source: call811.com and ccicomply.net

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