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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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