The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) provides tips and resources so workers know what’s below and spread awareness of safe digging and the need to call 811. Creating a safe environment in the underground infrastructure world is something that is crucial to everyone. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to safely operate when it comes to digging and excavation. Continue reading below to learn more!
Everyone plays a role in preventing damages to underground utility infrastructure. AEM continues to support the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) and asks its members to help spread awareness of the need to call 811 before any ground-engaging projects, personally or professionally.
CGA works “to reduce damages to the underground infrastructure—ensuring public safety, environmental protection, and the integrity of services by promoting effective damage prevention practices.” According to CGA, every few minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without properly marking and locating the facility.
“Even though 811 Day is recognized on Aug. 11 (8/11) each year, the other 364 days are just as important to understand the process and associated risk with digging,” said AEM Senior Director of Utility John Somers.
The depth of utility lines can vary for several reasons: erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces. Even if only digging down a few inches, the potential to strike an underground utility line exists. Buried facilities need to be properly marked and appropriate digging and excavation methods need to be used to prevent damages.
It’s not only large excavation projects, like expanding a road or developing a new office complex, that need to follow the one-call process. Installing a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree and laying a patio are just some examples of digging projects that need a call to 811 before starting.
When homeowners and contractors call 811, they are connected to the local one-call center, which notifies the appropriate utility companies of their intent to dig. If utilities are present in the desired digging area, professional locators then arrive at the digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, spray paint or both.
“The importance of using the 811 system cannot be overstated”, said an expert. “There’s a spaghetti bowl of lines buried underground,” they continued. “Digging blind without calling 811 first not only puts the crew digging at risk of severe injury, but also puts the surrounding community at risk of losing essential public service or worse.”
“It’s not just folks who don’t know about 811,” he added. “A lot of the damages we see are from experienced excavators who know about the 811 processes. At the end of the day, it’s important to do the right thing and make the call to 811.”
With all that being said, safe digging practices are encouraged for all. It is important to promote 811 in a variety of different ways, including:
- Safety materials provide information on how to use “Call 811”
- Promote “Call 811” on their websites and through advertisement sliders and editorials
- Manufacturers place “Call 811” signage on their equipment
- Manufacturers post “811 Know What’s Below” stickers on their equipment
- References and instructions to “Call 811” are printed in their equipment operator’s manuals
- “Call 811” is mentioned in every safety video that involves breaking ground
- “Call 811” is mentioned in safety toolbox talks
- “Call 811” events are posted on social media outlets
- Attending and presenting as industry experts at 811 events
- Attending and presenting as industry stakeholders at CGA conferences
- Participating in the CGA Best Practices committee
- Using CGA’s website and marketing materials