811 - Call Before You Dig
Access CentralNDT August 2022 Newsletter and please be sure to submit your near misses!
WHAT IS 811?
August 11th is 811 National Awareness Day
811 is the national call-before-you-dig phone number. Anyone who plans to dig should call 811 or go to their state 811 center’s website a few business days before digging to request that the approximate location of buried utilities be marked with paint or flags so that you don’t unintentionally dig into an underground utility line.
811 protects you and your community! Hitting a buried line while digging can disrupt utility service, cost money to repair, or cause serious injury or death. Always contact your 811 centers, wait the required time for utilities to respond to your request, and ensure that all utilities have responded to your request before putting a shovel in the ground.
DO I NEED TO CONTACT 811?
Yes! Any digging requires contacting your 811 centers, either by calling 811 from anywhere in the U.S. or making your request through your state 811 center’s website. Planting a garden? Installing a fence or mailbox? You must contact 811.
When you dial 811, you will automatically be connected to a representative from your state’s 811 centers who will ask you simple questions about the location and details of your digging project. If you make your request online, you will enter the same information into a form. Either way, you will receive a ticket number and instructions for how much time utilities have to respond to your request, as well as how to confirm that all utilities have responded before you can safely dig.
Residential 811: https://call811.com/Start-Here/Homeowners
Commercial Excavators: https://call811.com/Start-Here/Excavators
WHEN CAN I BEGIN MY DIGGING PROJECT?
Wait for the marks! Utilities will mark their buried lines on your dig site.
State laws vary, but generally, utility companies have a few days to respond to your request. Utilities will send out locators who will come to your dig site to mark the approximate location of buried utilities with paint or flags so that you can avoid them. Each utility type corresponds to a specific color of paint or a flag -- for example, gas lines are marked with yellow paint or flags. In addition to waiting for marks, you must use the info on your ticket to confirm that ALL utilities have responded before you can dig.
DON'T ASSUME, GET THE FACTS.
There are many false assumptions in using the 811 Notification process. Here are a few:
- Small farmers in rural areas use a tractor and auger to drill holes for fence posts. Does he need to contact 811 prior to digging? Technically, Yes. Even though it is rarely done in reality, it is the law.
- 811 Notification system is just for Industrial / Commercial digging and excavation activities. No, the 811 system is for Residential and Commercial purposes; at your residence, and for commercial excavations in the field.
- 811 Notification system is all the same system and is managed at the federal level. No, Each state manages its own 811 Notification system. Most follow similar rules in the ticketing process but are managed state by state.
- All states have the same rules for advance notice prior to digging, digging distance (exclusion zones) from existing lines (pipeline, electrical, water, etc.), and life & duration of an active 811 ticket. No, Some states differ in the number of days an 811 ticket is valid; additionally, DOT might indicate a 2' distance from digging around an existing line or even 18" plus half the diameter of the pipe. Check each state and DOT regulation for the specifics.
- Subcontractors working on a project can "ride" or use the Primary contractor's 811 notification ticket when performing their work. No. The Prime Contractor is responsible for logging their own dig tickets and the subcontractors must log their own under the subcontractors' company name.
- Once I log a ticket with the 811 system, it remains good for weeks or until the proposed digging is completed. No. Each state dig ticket regulations indicate how long a ticket is "good for". Typically 10-14 days and will require an update.
JUST SO YOU KNOW!
The 811 locate system DOES NOT notify Water, Telecommunication (Fiber optic, Cable, Phone), and Electrical service providers in most cases. You will need to contact these entities separately. Look for signage in the area for possible foreign lines that may impact your dig site. Another great resource for invisible obstructions in the area is the property owner/farmer who will typically know the history of all utilities buried in the area. Doing your homework up front could save you a lot of time and money by mistakenly having a line strike, as well as help eliminate anyone from being injured.
If a line strike were to occur, remove anyone in the excavation area to a safe location; then, contact 811 immediately, informing them about the strike. The 811 notification system will inform the companies who have an interest in the specific excavation area with an emergency dig ticket. If the damage / rupture has caused a leak or blowing gas, contact 911 as well to have Fire and other resources available on site. Remember to remain upwind of the damaged site and keep people away from the strike location in case of an explosion or hazardous atmosphere.
Click the US State Map below to select each state and determine the specifics for each related to 811 - Call Before You Dig regulations for both Residential and Commercial implementations.
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