Call 811 and dig safely

By Jenny LescohierAugust 11, 2022

Today is National 811 Day, reminding contractors and property owners alike to ‘Call Before You Dig’ to prevent damage to underground utilities and protect the safety of people on your property and in your community.

“Even though 811 Day is recognized on Aug. 11 (8/11) each year, the other 364 days are just as important to understand the process and associated risk with digging,” says John Somers, AEM vice president, construction & utility sector. 

Most contractors know 811 is the national call-before-you-dig phone number. Remember, anyone who plans to dig should call 811 or go to their state 811 center’s website before digging to request that the approximate location of buried utilities be marked with paint or flags so no one unintentionally digs into an underground utility line.

Be sure to call 811 or use your state 811 center’s website a few business days before you begin any digging, even for small projects. Every dig requires a call. 

The reason for such precaution is because the depth of utility lines can vary for several reasons: erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces. Even if only digging down a few inches, the potential to strike an underground utility line exists. Buried facilities need to be properly marked and appropriate digging and excavation methods need to be used to prevent damages.

When homeowners and contractors call 811, they are connected to the local one-call center, which notifies the appropriate utility companies of their intent to dig. If utilities are present in the desired digging area, professional locators then arrive at the digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, spray paint or both.

The specific amount of advance notice you are required to provide varies by state. Click here to find information about your state’s specific notification period requirement, your 811 center, and online service availability.

“By understanding the 811 process and other necessary steps needed to ensure damages to underground utility infrastructure are prevented, not only are we keeping essential utilities from interruption, such as water, natural gas, and internet service, we are also helping to mitigate any type of safety risk with striking an underground line that we cannot visually see,” says Somers. “In recognizing today, we reaffirm our commitment to supporting safe digging and encouraging others to do so as well, today and the other 364 days each year.”

For best practices on damage prevention and safe digging, the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) releases a new edition of its Best Practices Guide every spring with updates that reflect changes in damage prevention, especially those caused by the always-evolving technologies that are at the core of progress in the industry. 

In addition, AEM offers an extensive array of safety manuals, videos and related training materials to assist the off-road equipment industry in fostering safety best practices. Click here for more info, and safe digging!

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