April, 2011, is Dig Safely Month in New York State.
The event, organized by the New York State Public ServiceCommission, is a way to remind excavators and contractors thatstate law requires them to call one of the state’s toll-freeone-call centers before starting any excavation or diggingproject.
The Public Service Commission wants to raise awareness of thestate’s One-Call Notification System and the critical role it playsin identifying the location of underground infrastructurefacilities, said Commission Chairperson Garry Brown. Damages toutility facilities caused during excavation can result in loss ofutility service, personal injury and property damage. I urge allNew Yorkers to do their part in protecting our vital infrastructureby simply dialing 811 before digging.
New York State established the One-Call Notification System as afast, easy and comprehensive way to ensure underground facilitiesare properly marked before a digging or excavation project begins.The keys to preventing damage to underground facilities are the twoOne-Call Notification Systems that serve as communication linksbetween contractors/excavators and localutilities/municipalities.
Dig Safely New York and DigNet of New York City and Long Islandare New York’s nonprofit, one-call notification systems that helpthe general public and professional excavators obtain informationon the location of underground facilities by simply dialing811.
Under the Commission’s Call Before You Dig regulations,adopted to protect the public’s safety and general welfare, thefollowing procedures are REQUIRED:
Advance Notification Requirement. At least two to 10 workingdays prior to any mechanized work (does not include the date of thecall) notice must be provided to the One-Call Notification System,which will transmit the project information to involved undergroundfacility operating members so that they can mark the location ofany facilities at the excavation site.
Notification for excavation work anywhere in the state can bemade by dialing 811. Alternatively, for excavation on Long Islandand the five boroughs of New York City, DigNet of New York City andLong Island must be called at 1-800-272-4480. Whether dialing the1-800 number or 811, there is no charge for the call.
What does excavation include? Excavation is defined in state lawas …movement or removal of earth, rock or other materials in oron the ground by use of mechanized equipment or by blasting, andincludes, but is not limited to auguring; backfilling; drilling;grading; plowing in; pulling in; trenching and tunneling. Toolsmanipulated only by human or animal power and the tilling of soilfor agricultural purposes shall not be deemed excavation.
What is the excavator required to do if there are markedunderground facilities at the worksite? Before using poweredequipment near marked underground facilities, excavators arerequired to verify the location, depth, and direction of run of thefacility by means of test holes dug by hand. After verification, aclearance of at least four inches must be maintained betweenpowered equipment and the underground facility.
Who must join the One-Call System? All operators ofunderground facilities, including municipal systems, are requiredto be members of the One-Call Notification System serving theirarea(s) and to mark the location of their facilities in or nearexcavation work sites.
Excavators who damage underground facilities due to the failureto follow the regulations are not only subject to civil penalties,but also are liable for repair costs. However, state law exemptsexcavators from liability for repair costs if the damage is causedby the utility’s or municipality’s failure to comply with the law,such as failure to participate in the One-Call Notification Systemsor failure to mark the location of their underground facilitiesaccurately.
For more information about Dig Safely New York, go towww.digsafelynewyork.com or call 315-437-7394. For more informationabout DigNet of New York City & Long Island, visit thewww.dignetnycli.com Web site or call 1-800-272-4480. For moreinformation on 811, visit the www.call811.com Web site.