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Call Before You Dig

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Call Before You Dig

On the Scene E-Newsletter, Edition 133, February 28, 2011

digpicWe’ve all heard stories about accidents resulting in property loss, injury, and even death caused by utility lines being broken during construction projects.  Uninformed, misinformed or careless individuals and crews can cause major damage by breaking ground and hitting utility mains.  These accidents can lead to minor disturbances, such as power or communication loss for neighboring people and businesses to major disturbances, such as flooding or blowing up of several city blocks.

Utility location is the process of identifying and labeling public utility mains which are underground.  These may include telephone, electric, natural gas, cable, fiber optics, water main, storm and wastewater lines.  It is extremely important that these lines are correctly identified and marked to avoid dangerous accidents from occurring.

Every state, the District of Columbia and each of the Canadian Provinces has a “one call” system.  It is the responsibility of the excavator, contractor or homeowner to use this system (by dialing 811 on the telephone in the U.S.) to give notice before digging.  It is the responsibility of the utility commission to have a representative or agent for the utility company within a reasonable amount of time, usually between two and 14 days, to properly identify and mark any lines near the proposed dig site.

Even with a one-call, or similar system, in place, accidents still often happen- people still dig without calling; representatives for the utilities may show up late, or not at all; lines can be mismarked or left partially or wholly unmarked; proposed dig sites can be moved.  In cases when such accidents occur, it may be necessary to bring in independent experts.

The Civil Engineering Group at CED Investigative Technologies has experts who know and understand underground utility location.  Members of our team have worked in construction with utility companies and have investigated several digging related accidents. For more information on CED or how we can assist you on your current or next case, please feel free to contact one of our case managers at or call (800) 780-4221.

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