PENNSYLVANIA 811 SAFE DIGGING MONTH
Safe Digging Month is an awareness initiative sponsored by Pennsylvania 811 for the month of April.
Traditionally outdoor projects start in the spring. Pennsylvania 811 Safe Digging Month serves as a reminder to all excavators and homeowners to call 811 at least three business days before you dig, so that the approximate location of their underground utility lines can be identified and marked by facility owners. The call before you dig process helps to prevent injuries, property damage, and inconvenient utility outages.
Safe Digging is a shared responsibility among excavators, homeowners, and facility owners. The Common Ground Alliance (CGA), a member-driven association committed to raising the public’s awareness of underground safety, conducted a recent survey where approximately four in ten homeowners stated that they plan to dig on their property this year for an outdoor home or property improvement project. Of those homeowners who plan to dig, forty-five percent did not plan to call 811 before they dig. Two-thirds of homeowners believe they would not hit an unmarked underground utility line or cause a service outage if they dug without calling 811.
In 2019, the costs of damages to buried utilities in the U.S. was estimated at $30 billion.
What can you do to promote Pennsylvania 811 Safe Digging Month? As underground stakeholders, you can promote Pennsylvania 811 Safe Digging Month by posting 811-safety information on your social media pages and website. In addition, you can also publish articles in your company’s newsletters and bulletins to get the message out to homeowners.
Municipalities can also assist in promoting Pennsylvania 811 Safe Digging Month within their communities. Many municipalities and fire companies will place an 811-safety message on their community marquees to inform the public of Pennsylvania 811 Safe Digging Month. In addition, some local municipalities, counties and the state will also issue a Proclamation or Resolution declaring that April is Pennsylvania 811 Safe Digging Month.
2021 Awareness and Outreach Campaigns
Survey reveals a third of U.S. homeowners experienced a utility interruption during the COVID-19 pandemic as 19.5 million Americans plan digging projects this spring
West Mifflin, PA March 30, 2021 – In observance of National Safe Digging Month in April, Pennsylvania 811 announced results from a recent national survey. The results revealed that a third of U.S. homeowners (33%) reported experiencing a utility service interruption during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, of the 19.5 million U.S. homeowners who plan to dig this year for projects like gardening, building a fence or deck, installing a mailbox and more, nearly two in five (37%) will put themselves and their communities at risk by digging without contacting 811 beforehand to learn the approximate location of underground utilities.
Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities can result in serious injuries, inconvenient service disruptions and costly repairs when gas, electric, communications, water and sewer lines are damaged. Contacting 811 before digging will help homeowners maintain essential utility service for themselves and neighbors and keep communities safe, by reducing the likelihood of accidentally digging into buried utility lines.
"The survey shows that experiencing utility interruptions has been a fairly common occurrence for Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no question that access to essential utility services is important to communities across the country. Given the current environment, disruptions to internet and phone services are particularly problematic, especially with so many people relying on these services more than ever to complete work, school and so much more," said William Kiger, President & CEO, Pennsylvania 811. "The survey also showed that millions of homeowners are using their extra time at home to complete projects that require digging, so it's of the utmost importance that homeowners contact 811 prior to digging. Doing so will help keep communities safe and connected to the critical utility services we all rely on every day."
The national public opinion survey of homeowners conducted in late February by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the national association dedicated to protecting underground utility lines, people who dig near them, and their communities, also revealed that one in five American homeowners (20%) have been more likely to do a DIY home improvement involving digging since the pandemic began – particularly gardening projects: 56% of homeowners who are planning to plant a tree or shrub this year said they were more likely to dig during the pandemic.
The most popular planned projects cited among surveyed homeowners who plan to dig include:
- Planting a tree or shrub: 62%
- Building a fence: 37%
- Building a deck or patio: 32%
- Installing a mailbox: 20%
- Installing a pool: 6%
- Something else: 26%
- Always contact 811 three business days before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property.
- Plan ahead. Be sure to notify 811 on Monday or Tuesday for work planned for an upcoming weekend. This will provide ample time for the approximate location of the lines to be marked.
- Confirm that all lines have been marked.
- Consider moving the location of your project if it is near utility line markings.
- If a contractor has been hired, confirm that the contractor has contacted 811. Don't allow work to begin if the lines aren't marked.
- Visit www.pa1call.org/notify for complete info.
About Pennsylvania 811
Pennsylvania One Call System, Inc. is incorporated under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and registered as a non-profit corporation under Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code. Our purpose is to prevent damage to underground facilities. To promote safety, we provide an efficient and effective communications network among project owners, designers, excavators, and facility owners. A 35-member Board of Directors governs the organization. The composition of the Board includes representation from the following industries: Electric, Gas (including an owner or operator associated with Conventional oil and gas wells and a facility owner representative of a pipeline associated with Unconventional oil and gas wells), Municipal, Pipeline, Telecommunications, Telephone, Water, Cable Television, Associate, Contractor, Designer, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, and the Department of Transportation. For more information, visit Pennsylvania 811 on the web at www.pa1call.org
CGA is a member-driven association of nearly 1,700 individuals, organizations and sponsors in every facet of the underground utility industry. Established in 2000, CGA is committed to saving lives and preventing damage to North American underground infrastructure by promoting effective damage prevention practices. CGA has established itself as the preeminent source of damage prevention data and information in an effort to reduce damages to underground facilities in North America through shared responsibility among all stakeholders. For more information, visit CGA on the web at http://www.commongroundalliance.com.
About the study
SSRS conducted a national omnibus phone study between Feb. 23-28, 2021, on behalf of CGA. A total of 720 American homeowners ages 18+ were asked for their opinions on home and property improvement project topics. The survey had a margin of error of +/- 3.65 at the 95% confidence level.
Emphasizes Importance of Calling 8-1-1 Before Any Excavation Project; Encourage Utilities and Municipalities to Explore Project Coordination
HARRISBURG - The month of April is National Safe Digging Month, and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) took the opportunity today to remind customers, businesses and contractors of the importance of identifying underground infrastructure before beginning to dig - as well as encouraging utilities and municipalities to explore the benefits of closer coordination for infrastructure projects.
PA One Call (8-1-1)
"Spring traditionally brings more construction and home improvement activity, which can increase the risk of damage to underground utility lines when proper safeguards are not taken, "said Commissioner John F. Coleman, Jr. "Every hit on an underground line poses a danger to contractors, utility workers and nearby residents, along with the possibly of service interruptions, environmental damage and costly repairs to damaged lines - which is why it is essential to contact Pennsylvania One Call (PA One Call) system when calling 8-1-1 before any excavation work, to ensure that lines are properly located and marked."
Coordinate PA - Project Collaboration
Commissioner Coleman also encouraged utilities, contractors and municipalities to explore the added benefits of the PA One Call system's COORDINATE PA program, which can help better coordinate project schedules, fostering collaboration and potential cost savings.
"Collaboration on projects is a 'win-win' for everyone involved," noted Commissioner Coleman. "For example, if a utility is planning to replace underground lines in a particular area in August, but the local municipality is planning to repave those streets in June, it would be better and more cost-effective for both entities to coordinate their schedules so that construction work is complete before the repaving begins, rather than digging up a new street."
To read entire release: PUC Press Release 04-15-2021
Pennsylvania 811 is hosting the event and will be joined by industry safety training partners including OSHA, PennDOT LTAP, United Rentals, and Paradigm. We cannot come to you so we're inviting you to our virtual house as our guest. We're a click away, no travel involved! Take a moment to register and plan your day.
Can't make it? No worries. Catch us on FACEBOOK LIVE where we'll stream the main training track live. Trivia game and prizes. To find us on Facebook, search for Pennsylvania 811
Pennsylvania 811 is running a bus shelter and billboard awareness campaign across the Commonwealth.
Let us know if you see one!
Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Butler, Chester, Columbia, Dauphin, Delaware, Indiana, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Mercer, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Venango, Washington
Safe Digging Month Toolkit
Help Pennsylvania 811 spread this valuable safety message by downloading the 2021 Safe Digging Month Communications Plan.