To help increase awareness for both professional excavators as well as homeowners who plan to dig, each year the Common Ground Alliance designates Aug. 11 as 811 Day. It serves as a convenient reminder to “call before you dig.” Even though numerous awareness efforts have been made, and it’s the law to Call 811 before digging, the number of reported damages continues to increase year-over-year.
All the change that 2020 has forced upon us may actually contribute to more unsafe digging practices. Many of us are staying home more than we typically do, which allows for many of those previously pushed aside projects to finally be tackled:
- An estimated 31 million homeowners are planning to complete home improvement projects that involve digging this year.
- 36% of homeowners planning to dig will put utility service at risk by not calling 811 before starting a project.
- This means that over 11 million homeowners will risk knocking out utility service to themselves and their communities by not calling 811.
The most popular planned DIY home projects that involve digging include:
- Planting a tree or shrub (61%)
- Building a patio or deck (30%)
- Building a fence (28%)
- Installing a mailbox (13%)
The Association of Equipment Manufacturers 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 along with any rules and best practices related to excavating 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.