Respect the Flags

Trenching and excavation work poses many hazards such as cave-ins, equipment struck-by incidents, potential falls, and striking underground utilities. Hazards posed by striking buried underground utilities include property damage, injury, electrocutions and even explosions.

After investigating hundreds of utility hits and spending so much time on root cause analysis, we know the real damage that can be caused by not calling 811 before you dig. Making assumptions will get you in trouble every time.

The biggest assumption that we saw time and time again was ... assuming that all lines in the area are buried at least 18" deep. Reason for the assumption? Because, in most states, all lines are "supposed" to be buried at least 18" deep. After dozens of line hits all over the country, are all lines buried at least 18" deep because they are supposed to be? NO. Lesson learned? Any dig, any depth, always requires a call to 811 a few days before the project.

 Broken water main flooding this busy intersection. Incidents like this one can be avoided by using safe excavation practices.

Broken water main flooding this busy intersection. Incidents like this one can be avoided by using safe excavation practices.

In order to prevent these potential hazards it is important to follow all applicable excavation and trenching requirements. In addition to OSHA rules, workers should be aware that there are many specific state, municipal, or local rules for Call Before You Dig where the work is being done.

OSHA Standard 1926.651(b)(1) states that the estimated location of utility installations, such as sewer, telephone, fuel, electric, water lines, or any other underground installations that reasonably may be expected to be encountered during excavation work, shall be determined prior to opening an excavation.

When it comes to excavation and taking the gamble and deciding NOT to call 811 before you dig.... don't be a dumbass. You are not better than everyone else, and your work is NOT more important than everyone else's, and you don't get a pass on this. You are not so awesome that you get to break the law.

To learn more about Calling 811 including 811 in your state, visit the Call 811 website. Call 811 has an interactive state map to make it easy for you to find information about 811 requirements in your area. They have information for homeowners, contractors, farmers and ranchers.

  • Before trenching or excavation work takes place, workers must estimate the location of any buried underground utilities by contacting the appropriate service.
  • Each state has specific guidelines for call before you dig.
  • Call 811 from anywhere in the country a few days prior to working on excavations, trenching or digging and the call will automatically be routed to the local one call center.
OSHA Standard 1926.651(b)(2) says that utility companies or owners shall be contacted within established or customary local response times, advised of the proposed work, and asked to establish the location of the utility underground installations prior to the start of actual excavation.
 Crew looks for a buried gas line in a freshly dug pot hole.

Crew looks for a buried gas line in a freshly dug pot hole.

  • Always wait the specific time required by the locate service.
  • Always respect the markings and flags placed by the locating service.
  • Probe, hand dig, and/or pot hole using shovels when approaching the painted/flagged areas.

Weeklysafety.com is offering 10 free safety topics including a toolbox talk about Utility Color Codes and what they mean. Click the button below to get your free set of safety meeting topics, all provided in both English & Spanish. If you want to never search for safety meeting topic materials again, then visit us today at Weeklysafety.com.

Color Code It!

Color Code It!

GFCI ... Sexy Cousin of the Extension Cord

GFCI ... Sexy Cousin of the Extension Cord

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