EXCAVATOR HANDBOOK

When applicable, the questions and answers below will include the section of PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended to which it pertains.
Question 1

What do I need to do before I dig?

Answer
:  Place a call to 8-1-1 at least 3 business days, but not more than 10 business days prior to starting excavation.

 

Section 5 Clauses 2.1 and 2.2 of PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended states:           
"It shall be the duty of each excavator who intends to perform excavation or demolition work within this Commonwealth:

            (2.1) To request the location and type of facility owner lines at each site by notifying the facility owner through the One Call System. Notification shall be not less than three nor more than ten business days in advance of beginning excavation or demolition work. No work shall begin earlier than the scheduled excavation date which shall be on or after the third business day after notification. The scheduled excavation date shall exclude the date upon which notification was received by the One Call System and notification received on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, which shall be processed on the following business day. In the case of a complex project, notification shall not be less than ten business days in advance of the beginning of excavation or demolition work.
            (2.2) To provide the One Call System with specific information to identify the site so that facility owners might provide indications of their lines."


Question 2

What is considered an excavation?

Answer: 
The use of powered equipment or explosives in the movement of earth, rock or other material.

PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended defines Excavation work as:      

"...
the use of powered equipment or explosives in the movement of earth, rock or other material, and includes but is not limited to anchoring, augering, backfilling, blasting, boring, digging, ditching, drilling, driving-in, grading, plowing-in, pulling-in, ripping, scraping, trenching and tunneling, but does not include soft excavation technology such as vacuum, high pressure air or water, tilling of soil for agricultural purposes to a depth of less than eighteen inches, the direct operations necessary or incidental to the purposes of finding or extracting natural resources, political subdivisions performing minor routine maintenance up to a depth of less than eighteen inches measured from the top of the edge of the cartway or the top of the outer edge of an improved shoulder, in addition to the performance of incidental de minimis excavation associated with the routine maintenance and the removal of sediment buildup, within the right of-way of public roads or employes of the Department of Transportation performing within the scope of their employment work up to depth of twenty-four inches beneath the existing surface within the right-of-way of a State highway."


Question 3
What hours are the one call center open?

Answer: 24 x 7 every day of the year 


Question 4
 Who must place the one call?

Answer: The responsible person doing the excavation.

 

Section 5 Clauses 2.1 of PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended states:

"It shall be the duty of each excavator who intends to perform excavation or demolition work within this Commonwealth:

(2.1) To request the location and type of facility owner lines at each site by notifying the facility owner through the One Call System."

 
PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended defines an Excavator as:
"...any person who or which performs excavation or demolition work for himself or for another person."


Question 5

I’m a subcontractor, can I piggyback on my main excavator’s one call?


Answer: 
 No. Each responsible excavator must make his own call.

Section 5 Clauses 2.1 and 2.2 of PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended states:

"It shall be the duty of each excavator who intends to perform excavation or demolition work within this Commonwealth:

(2.1) To request the location and type of facility owner lines at each site by notifying the facility owner through the One Call System. Notification shall be not less than three nor more than ten business days in advance of beginning excavation or demolition work. No work shall begin earlier than the scheduled excavation date which shall be on or after the third business day after notification. The scheduled excavation date shall exclude the date upon which notification was received by the One Call System and notification received on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, which shall be processed on the following business day. In the case of a complex project, notification shall not be less than ten business days in advance of the beginning of excavation or demolition work.
(2.2) To provide the One Call System with specific information to identify the site so that facility owners might provide indications of their lines."


Question 6
What is the tolerance zone?

Answer: 
18 inches horizontally from the exterior wall of the pipe or facility. 

PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended defines the Tolerance Zone as:
"...the horizontal space within eighteen inches of the outside wall or edge of a line or facility."

Question 7

What is required within the tolerance zone?

Answer: 
Exercise due care and use prudent techniques.


Section 5 Clause 4 of PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended states:
"...Within the tolerance zone the excavator shall employ prudent techniques, which may include hand-dug test holes to ascertain the precise position of such facilities."


Question 8
What is a serial number?

Answer:
Proof that you placed a one call notification.

Section 5 Clause 2.2 of PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended states:
"...An excavator shall be deemed to have met the obligations of clause (2.1) if he calls the One Call System, provides the site and other required information and receives a serial number."

Question 9

For how long are the marks good?

Answer: 
When excavation begins within the lawful start dates, you can continue work as long as equipment is on site and the marks are visible.

Section 5 Clause 3 of PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended states:
"...After commencement of excavation or demolition work, the excavator shall be responsible for protecting and preserving the staking, marking or other designation until no longer required for proper and safe excavation or demolition work at or near the underground facility, or by contacting the One Call System to request that the facilities be marked again in the event that the previous markings have been compromised or eliminated."

Section 5 Clause 14 of PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended states:
"If an excavator removes its equipment and vacates a worksite for more than two business days, he shall renotify the One Call System unless other arrangements have been made directly with the facility owners involved in his worksite."

 


Question 10

When do I need to call back for re-marking?

Answer: 
You have an obligation to protect the marks. When the marks become obscured or when you remove equipment from the site for more than 2 business days, you must call one call for re-marks.


Section 5 Clause 3 of PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended states:
"...After commencement of excavation or demolition work, the excavator shall be responsible for protecting and preserving the staking, marking or other designation until no longer required for proper and safe excavation or demolition work at or near the underground facility, or by contacting the One Call System to request that the facilities be marked again in the event that the previous markings have been compromised or eliminated."

Section 5 Clause 14 of PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended states:
"If an excavator removes its equipment and vacates a worksite for more than two business days, he shall renotify the One Call System unless other arrangements have been made directly with the facility owners involved in his worksite."

Question 11
What color paint should I keep in my truck to mark my planned excavation?

Answer: 
White


Section 5 Clause 11 of PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended states:    
"An excavator shall use the color white to mark a proposed excavation site when exact site information cannot be provided."

Question 12

Should I mark in white before I call?

Answer: 
  Yes, the perimeter of the worksite should be marked in white. (Do not use any other color) 


Section 5 Clause 11 of PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended states:
"An excavator shall use the color white to mark a proposed excavation site when exact site information cannot be provided."

Section 2 Clause 5(vi) of PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended states:    
"In marking the approximate position of underground lines or facilities, the facility owner shall follow the Common Ground Alliance Best Practices for Temporary Marking set forth in ANSI standard Z535.1." (see below)


Question 13
May I refresh anyone else's marks using their color?

Answer: 
No.  You must protect the marks but you may not refresh anyone else’s marks.

Section 5 Clause 3 of PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended states:
"...After commencement of excavation or demolition work, the excavator shall be responsible for protecting and preserving the staking, marking or other designation until no longer required for proper and safe excavation or demolition work at or near the underground facility, or by contacting the One Call System to request that the facilities be marked again in the event that the previous markings have been compromised or eliminated."

Question 14
What is an emergency one call?

Answer: 
A call involving an event that has an immediate effect on life or property.

PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended defines an Emergency as:
"...a sudden or unforeseen occurrence involving a clear and immediate danger to life, property and the environment, including, but not limited to, serious breaks or defects in a facility owner's lines."

PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended Section 5 Clause 9 states:
"The time requirements of clause (2.1) shall not apply to a facility owner or excavator performing excavation or demolition work in an emergency, as defined in section 1; nonetheless, all facility owners shall be notified as soon as possible before, during or after excavator or demolition, depending upon the circumstances."

Question 15
Must I physically protect the marked facility owner lines I expose in preparation for excavation?

Answer: 
Yes, in consultation with the facility owner.

Section 5 Clause 6(ii) of PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended states:
"After consulting with a facility owner, provide such support and mechanical protection for known facility owner’s lines at the construction site during the excavation or demolition work, including during backfilling operations, as may be reasonably necessary for the protection of such lines."

Question 16

What should I do when I hit or damage a utility?

Answer:

       1. Stop digging!

       2. If gas is escaping or blowing, you must call 9-1-1.

       3. Call 8-1-1 to create a damage notification or notify the facility owner directly.


Sections 5 Clause 7 and 8 of Act 287 of 1974 as amended state: 

 "To report immediately to the facility owner any break or leak on its lines, or any dent, gouge, groove or other damage to such lines or to their coating or cathodic protection, made or discovered in the course of the excavation or demolition work. The One Call System board of directors may adopt procedures to permit reporting under this clause through the One Call System.

To immediately notify 911 and the facility owner, if the damage results in the escape of any flammable, toxic, or corrosive gas or liquid which endangers life, health or property. The excavator shall take reasonable measures, based on its knowledge, training, resources, experience and understanding of the situation to protect themselves and those in immediate danger, the general public, property and the environment until the facility owner or emergency responders have arrived and completed their assessment and shall remain on site to convey any pertinent information to responders that may help them to safely mitigate the situation."


Question 17
When may I lawfully start digging?

Answer: Read the one call ticket for your Lawful Start Date.

 


Question 18

Who is responsible for finding the precise location of the underground line?

Answer: 
The excavator, using prudent techniques.


Section 5 Clause 4 of PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended states:

"To exercise due care; and to take all reasonable steps necessary to avoid injury to or otherwise interfere with all lines where positions have been provided to the excavator by the facility owners pursuant to clause (5) of section 2. Within the tolerance zone the excavator shall employ prudent techniques, which may include hand-dug test holes to ascertain the precise position of such facilities. If insufficient information to safely excavate is available pursuant to clause (5) of section 2, the excavator shall employ like prudent techniques which shall be paid for by the project owner pursuant to clause (15) of this section."



Question 19

What should I do if I get to the worksite and there are no visible mark-outs?

Answer: Check the KARL responses through the one call center.