EXCAVATOR HANDBOOK

When applicable, the answers to the questions will reference the section of PA Act 287 of 1974, as amended, 73P.S. § 176 et. seq. and/or the Complex Project Policy (Policy) located on the PA One Call website.


Question 1

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. The term 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, 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 work up to a depth of twenty-four inches beneath the existing surface within the right-of-way of a State highway, work performed by persons whose activities must comply with the requirements of and regulations promulgated under the act of May 31, 1945 (P.L.1198, No.418), known as the Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act, the act of April 27, 1966 (1st Sp.Sess., P.L.31, No.1), known as The Bituminous Mine Subsidence and Land Conservation Act, or the act of September 24, 1968 (P.L.1040, No.318), known as the Coal Refuse Disposal Control Act, that relate to the protection of utility facilities or the  direct operations on a well pad following construction of the well pad and that are necessary or operations incidental to the extraction of oil or natural gas."


Question 2

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 work 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 work site so that facility owners might provide indications of their lines."


Question 3

Should I mark in white before I call?

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

Section 1 of PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended states:   
"Work site" means the specific place denoted on the locate request where excavation or demolition work is being or is planned to be performed. A work site should be denoted as a clearly defined, bounded area, including relevant identifiable points of reference such as the specific address with a specific description as to the portion of the property, including descriptions such as front, back, left side, right side and direction such as N, S, E, W or variants. Where possible, the points should also reference, without limitation, the size and radius or circumference of the excavation, utility pad or pedestal numbers, utility pole numbers, landmarks, including trees, fountains, fences, railroads, highway and pipeline markers, and latitude and longitude."


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 4
What hours are the one call center open?

Answer: 24 x 7 every day of the year.


Question 5
Who must place the one call?

Answer: The responsible person doing the excavation.

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."

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 work site by notifying the facility owner through the One Call System."


Question 6
What is a serial number?

Answer:
Proof that you placed a one call notification. The serial number is assigned by the One Call System and is on the locate request.

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 work site and other required information and receives a serial number."

Question 7

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

Answer:  No. Each responsible Excavator must make their own notification.

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 work 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 work site so that facility owners might provide indications of their lines."


Question 8

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, vacuum excavation or similar devices 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 9

Upon initial arrival at the Work site, what should I do if there are no visible mark-outs?

Answer:  
Do not begin excavating. Check the KARL responses through the one call center.

Section 5 Clause 20 of PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended states:
"To renotify the One Call System of an unmarked or incorrectly marked facility, if an original, proper, nonemergency locate request has been made to the One Call System and, upon initial arrival at the proposed work site, it is apparent to the excavator that there is an unmarked or incorrectly marked facility. An excavator may not begin excavating in the affected area of the work site until after receiving sufficient information from the facility owner to safely excavate. If the facility owner fails to provide sufficient information to the excavator within three hours after the excavator has notified the One Call System of the unmarked or incorrectly marked facility, the excavator may proceed with excavation subject to the limitations under clause (5)."


Question 10

What should I do if I disagree with the responses in KARL, due to visible evidence in the field?

Answer:  
Renotify the One Call System. After the renotify, wait up to three hours for the response from the Facility owner(s) before digging prudently.

Section 5 Clause 20 of PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended states:
"To renotify the One Call System of an unmarked or incorrectly marked facility, if an original, proper, nonemergency locate request has been made to the One Call System and, upon initial arrival at the proposed work site, it is apparent to the excavator that there is an unmarked or incorrectly marked facility. An excavator may not begin excavating in the affected area of the work site until after receiving sufficient information from the facility owner to safely excavate. If the facility owner fails to provide sufficient information to the excavator within three hours after the excavator has notified the One Call System of the unmarked or incorrectly marked facility, the excavator may proceed with excavation subject to the limitations under clause (5)."


Question 11
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 12

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, vacuum excavation or similar devices to ascertain the precise position of such facilities."


Question 13

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 work site 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 work site."
 


Question 14
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 15
When may I lawfully start digging?

Answer: Read the locate request for your Lawful start date.

PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended defines a Lawful start date as:


"...the scheduled start date as provided under section 1.1., which states the lawful start date shall be three business days through ten business days following notification to the One Call System."


Question 16
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 work site 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 work site."

Question 17
May I refresh anyone else's marks using their color?

Answer: 
No. You must protect the marks. 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 18

What should I do when I hit or damage a Line or facility?

Answer:

  • Stop digging!
  • If gas is escaping or blowing, you must call 9-1-1.
  • Call 8-1-1 to create a damage notification or notify the Facility owner directly.
  • Submit an Alleged Violation Report (AVR) not more than 10 business days after the damage occurred.


Section 5 Clause 7, 8 and 16 of
Act 287 of 1974 as amended state:
 

"(7) 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.

(8) 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.

(16) To submit a report of an alleged violation to the commission through the One Call System not more than ten business days after striking or damaging a facility owner's line during excavation or demolition or if the excavator believes a violation of this act has been committed in association with excavation or demolition work. The report of an alleged violation shall be in a form and manner as required by the commission."


Question 19
What is an Emergency one call?

Answer: 
A notification 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 20

What is the difference between a single excavation notification and a Complex project?

Answer: The maximum area of a single notification is 1,000 feet or intersection to intersection, whichever is greater, along the same street, within the same political subdivision. Anything greater than this is considered a Complex project.

Sections 3 Clause 4 of Act 287 of 1974 as amended state:
"It shall be the duty of the One Call System...
...(4) To determine the maximum geographic area that shall constitute a valid single notification and to determine when multiple notifications shall be required of any person, including the method, the type and the number of notifications in a complex project."

Question 21

What determines if my Excavation work is a Complex project?

Answer: 

  • Duration
  • Impact on the Facility owner’s lines or the public
  • Size
  • Complexity


PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended defines a Complex project as:      
 "...an excavation that involves more work than properly can be described in a single locate request or any project designated as such by the excavator or facility owner as a consequence of its complexity or its potential to cause significant disruption to lines or facilities and the public, including excavations that require scheduling locates over an extended time frame."


Question 22

A Facility owner feels my Excavation work is complex and requests a meeting through the KARL System; what happens next?

Answer: The Facility owner will contact you directly to schedule a meeting.

PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended defines a Complex project as:      
 "...an excavation that involves more work than properly can be described in a single locate request or any project designated as such by the excavator or facility owner as a consequence of its complexity or its potential to cause significant disruption to lines or facilities and the public, including excavations that require scheduling locates over an extended time frame."


Question 23

My Excavation work falls under the definition of complex; what do I need to do?

Answer:

  • If a project does not exist in the Coordinate PA (CPA) portal on the PA One Call website, then create one.
  • Create a Complex project meeting notification from within the project.
  • Hold a Preconstruction meeting, as applicable.
  • Create locate request(s) from within the project based on agreements made at the meeting.

PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended defines a Complex project as:      
 "...an excavation that involves more work than properly can be described in a single locate request or any project designated as such by the excavator or facility owner as a consequence of its complexity or its potential to cause significant disruption to lines or facilities and the public, including excavations that require scheduling locates over an extended time frame."

PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended Section 5 Clause 3 states:
"In a complex project or if an excavator intends to perform work at multiple work sites or over a large area, to take reasonable steps to work with facility owners, including scheduling and conducting a preconstruction meeting, so that they may locate their facilities at a time reasonably in advance of the actual start of excavation or demolition work for each phase of the work. A preconstruction meeting may take place at any time prior to the commencement of excavation or demolition work, and the excavator, facility owners and designer, or their agents, shall attend the meeting. Notice of the meeting shall be given sufficiently in advance so as to permit attendance, either in person or electronically, by the excavator, facility owners and designer, or their agents, and shall include information sufficient to identify the scope of work. If the excavator does not believe that a preconstruction meeting is necessary under the circumstances of this clause it shall indicate such belief in its notice, but any facility owner with facilities at the work site may request a meeting with the excavator, and a meeting shall be held between the facility owner and the excavator. 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 24

Question: Where should the Preconstruction meeting be held?

Answer:
In close proximity to the project work location or electronically.


PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended Section 5 Clause 3 states:
"In a complex project or if an excavator intends to perform work at multiple work sites or over a large area, to take reasonable steps to work with facility owners, including scheduling and conducting a preconstruction meeting, so that they may locate their facilities at a time reasonably in advance of the actual start of excavation or demolition work for each phase of the work. A preconstruction meeting may take place at any time prior to the commencement of excavation or demolition work, and the excavator, facility owners and designer, or their agents, shall attend the meeting. Notice of the meeting shall be given sufficiently in advance so as to permit attendance, either in person or electronically, by the excavator, facility owners and designer, or their agents, and shall include information sufficient to identify the scope of work. If the excavator does not believe that a preconstruction meeting is necessary under the circumstances of this clause it shall indicate such belief in its notice, but any facility owner with facilities at the work site may request a meeting with the excavator, and a meeting shall be held between the facility owner and the excavator. 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 25

What should occur at the Preconstruction meeting?

Answer:  Attendance should be recorded on the POCS approved Complex Project Meeting Sign In Sheet template and notes taken, including the scope of locate request(s) and the agreed upon mark-out schedule


(Sign in sheet and meeting notes template are 
available on the POCS website)


Question 26

What should happen after the meeting?

Answer: The meeting notes/agreement and sign in sheet should be uploaded to the CPA portal. Locate request(s), as modified, should be created via the CPA portal based on the agreement reached at the meeting.


Question 27
Is a Preconstruction meeting required?

Answer: No, if the Excavator chose not to hold a meeting, a Facility owner can request a one on one meeting with the Excavator.

PA Act 287 of 1974 as amended Section 5 Clause 3 states:
"In a complex project or if an excavator intends to perform work at multiple work sites or over a large area, to take reasonable steps to work with facility owners, including scheduling and conducting a preconstruction meeting, so that they may locate their facilities at a time reasonably in advance of the actual start of excavation or demolition work for each phase of the work. A preconstruction meeting may take place at any time prior to the commencement of excavation or demolition work, and the excavator, facility owners and designer, or their agents, shall attend the meeting. Notice of the meeting shall be given sufficiently in advance so as to permit attendance, either in person or electronically, by the excavator, facility owners and designer, or their agents, and shall include information sufficient to identify the scope of work. If the excavator does not believe that a preconstruction meeting is necessary under the circumstances of this clause it shall indicate such belief in its notice, but any facility owner with facilities at the work site may request a meeting with the excavator, and a meeting shall be held between the facility owner and the excavator. 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 28

May an Excavator dig on a Complex project notification?

Answer:
No, this is the notification that begins the preconstruction planning process. 

Please reference the Complex Project Policy in the Resource Center of the PA One Call website for more information on Complex Projects.