April 2, 2013 3:42 am
Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities increases the likelihood of unintentional damage, which can cause serious injuries, service disruptions and repair costs. An underground utility line is damaged every eight minutes because someone decided to dig without first calling 811, according to CGA data.
There are more than 100 billion feet of underground utilities in the United States, according to data compiled by CGA from various industry groups. That figure equates to more than one football field's length (105 yards) of buried utilities for every man, woman and child in the U.S.
Everyone who calls 811 a few days before digging is connected to a local one call notification center that will take the caller's information and communicate it to local utility companies. Professional locators will then visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of underground utility lines with spray paint or flags. Once a site has been accurately marked, it is safe to begin digging around the marked areas.
This national public opinion survey of 624 homeowners, conducted Feb. 28 – March 5, also found that 85 percent of homeowners would require a contractor to call 811 before digging on their property, even though nearly half (48 percent) of the homeowners themselves would not call 811 in advance of a digging project they would perform.
The survey also identified the top reasons why people who do not plan to call 811 before digging thought they did not need to make this phone call. Among survey respondents who plan to dig this year but don't plan to call, 56 percent said that they felt they already knew where utilities were buried on their property; 49 percent did not think they would dig deep enough to come in contact with utility lines, despite the fact that utilities can sometimes be just a few inches below the surface due to erosion and other topography changes.
As part of National Safe Digging Month, CGA encourages homeowners to take the following steps when planning a digging project this spring:
-Always call 811 a few days before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property.
-Plan ahead. Call on Monday or Tuesday for work planned for an upcoming weekend, providing ample time for the approximate location of lines to be marked.
-Confirm with your local one call center that all lines have been marked.
-Learn what the various colors of paint and flags represent at www.call811.com/faqs.
-Consider moving the location of your project if it is near utility line markings.
-If a contractor has been hired, confirm that a call to 811 has been made. Don't allow work to begin if the lines aren't marked.
Published with permission from RISMedia.