April marks National Safe Digging Month, a time to remind homeowners and professional contractors to call 8-1-1 at least three business days before undertaking home improvement or landscaping projects that require excavation. Contractors failing to call 8-1-1 prior to performing excavation work are in violation of Pennsylvania law.
National Safe Digging Month is an initiative designed to raise awareness about safe digging practices and to help prevent property damage, injuries and utility outages. Nationwide, there are more than 19 million miles of underground pipes and cables. According to the Common Ground Alliance, more than 350,000 incidents resulting in damage to underground facilities are caused by excavators each year. Every nine minutes, an underground utility line is damaged.
Calling 8-1-1 at least three business days before starting a project that involves digging ensures underground utilities are properly marked, which reduces the risk of damage. There is no charge to homeowners for 8-1-1 requests.
Every digging project, no matter how small, warrants a call to 811. Installing a mailbox, putting in a fence, building a deck and even homeowner landscaping projects such as planting trees or shrubs are all examples of digging projects that require a call to 8-1-1 prior to commencing the project. When making the call to 8-1-1, callers are connected to their local one-call center. The one call center then notifies the appropriate utility companies of the location of the planned excavation activity. Following receipt of the call, utility companies send out locators to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags or paint.
“’Know what’s below’ is simple phrase that can make a significant difference,” Hans Bell, UGI Chief Operating Officer, said. “Striking a single line can cause injury, repair costs, fines and outages that inconvenience communities. In fact, third-party excavation damage is the number one cause of natural gas pipeline damage involving death or serious injury. National Safe Digging Month provides us an opportunity to remind homeowners and contractors to call 8-1-1 before digging to prevent the risk of striking an underground utility line.”
Bell added that contractors and homeowners should also “look up and live” while working around electric and other above-ground facilities.
“Damage and potential injuries can also be avoided by being aware of overhead lines,” Bell said.
UGI Utilities has headquarters in Reading, Pennsylvania and serves 700,000 customers in 45 Pennsylvania counties and one county in Maryland. Customers interested in additional information visit the UGI website at www.ugi.com; on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ugiutilities; Twitter at www.twitter.com/ugi_utilities.