Views from the Field: “Call Before You Dig”

811 - PA One Call LogoMachine Operator: Did I just hit that gas line?!

Laborer: We should have just called 8-1-1.

Mistakes happen, but because of Pennsylvania’s One Call System, accidents like this become very avoidable. With a simple five minute phone call, machine operators and ambitious home owners of Pennsylvania can break ground with confidence. REPSG knows from experience how important Pennsylvania’s one call system can be. For example, on one memorable occasion a property owner was shocked when One Call found a high pressure petroleum pipeline running through their backyard.

The service’s slogan, “Call before you dig,” completely sums up its purpose of being. Since its beginnings in 1972, this Pennsylvania Non-Profit has been promoting safety by helping to provide the exact locations of underground utility lines. In doing so, it has helped to minimize utility interruptions, reduce on-the-job injuries, and has encouraged a higher level of public safety. Just three years later, in April 1975, Act 287 went into effect requiring all excavators to call before digging.

While most states offer this great service, each state has its differences regarding the rules and regulations of digging. By calling 8-1-1 a few days before your scheduled excavation you will acquire the information you’ll need to dig safely, without the fear. By just telling the One Call operator where you will be digging and what type of work you are doing, utility companies that may be affected by your dig will be notified. In turn, they will dispatch a locator to mark the underground lines, pipes, and cables within your approximate dig area.

The mark outs that One Call use are even color-coded to indicate which type of utility you will encounter:

  • Red: electric power lines, cables, conduit, and lighting cables
  • Orange: telecommunication, alarm or signal lines, cables, or conduit
  • Yellow: natural gas, oil, steam, petroleum, other gaseous or flammable material
  • Green: sewers and drain lines
  • Blue: drinking water
  • Purple: reclaimed water, irrigation, slurry lines
  • Pink: temporary survey markings, unknown facilities
  • White: proposed excavation limits

To avoid not just injury but expense and embarrassment, call 8-1-1.

Don’t forget to gather all the necessary info such as addresses, nearest intersections, and extent of excavation prior to calling in order to avoid any unnecessary delays.