Roughly 38 million people will commence with a digging project this year without first having underground utility lines marked, and a line is damaged once every nine minutes because someone started digging without first calling 811.
With that in mind, and as a member of the Common Ground Alliance, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) encourages its members companies, their employees and their customers to support safe digging practices. But more importantly, the association strongly urges them to always call 811 before undertaking any digging project.
“Making a free call to 811 reduces the likelihood of causing an incident – such as service outages or bodily harm in worst-case scenarios – to just 1 percent,” said William "Bernie" Bernhard, AEM manager of technical and safety services. “We want this message to be top-of-mind as do-it-yourselfers complete their gardening or home improvement projects this summer and fall."
AEM encourages everyone planning a digging project to take the following steps:
- Always call 811 a few days in advance of a digging project, no matter the depth or familiarity with the property.
- Plan ahead and provide ample time for the approximate location of lines to be marked.
- Confirm all lines have been marked with the one-call service, and look for evidence of any utilities that may have been missed and ensure all underground utilities are located prior to excavating.
- Strongly consider moving the location of the project if it’s near utility line markings.
- Know the tolerance zone in the state where the project is taking place. Only soft excavation should be done in the tolerance zone.
- If a contractor has been hired, confirm a call to 811 has been made, and don’t allow work to begin if lines haven’t been marked.
Each and every state offers its own 811 call center to help with digging efforts, and 811 representatives take information about impending projects and notify appropriate utility companies to mark buried lines so digging can safely occur around them.
AEM and its members are committed to safety, and AEM assists manufacturers and the off-road equipment industry in fostering safety best practices through the association’s extensive array of safety manuals, videos and related training materials.