Safe digging tips and practices | call 811

 In Damage Prevention of Utilities

April is National Safe Digging Month. With spring’s arrival comes a host of outside digging projects making this the perfect time to list safe digging tips and practices. If you’re planning an excavation project, whether you’re a contractor or homeowner, consider the following:

Call before you dig

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The Rhino HIT Kit provides the proper materials needed to document a dig before an excavation.

Why risk costly litigation from hitting a line when a simple photograph and using the HIT Kit can keep you out of court?

  1. Know your state’s One Call Law.
  2. Call 811 before digging.
  3. Wait two full business days for the utility companies to visit the site and mark the approximate location of the utility lines with paint or flags.
  4. Understand the marks. The utility locates will be color-coded and represent the approximate location of the facilities and are valid for only 15 days. Mark the excavation area in white.
  5. Dig carefully, keeping in mind your state’s tolerance zone which could be 18” to 24” on either side of the line.

Ten safe digging practices

  1. Dig with only rounded or blunt-edged tools. Hand digging, vacuum excavation, soft digging, and pneumatic hand tools are fine. Using axes, picks, posthole diggers, pry bars, mattocks mechanized equipment often results in damaged utilities.
  2. If you are a contractor, consider using a Hit Kit to document the dig.
  3. When digging, keep the face of the shovel parallel with the utility markings.
  4. Do not assume there is only one utility line, and while it is typical for facilities to be buried at a specific depth – do not assume it.
  5. When the utility line is visible during excavation, keep the shovel parallel with the line.
  6. Carefully remove soil away from the utility line without striking it or prying against it.
  7. Never expose unnecessary portions of the line as it will make it vulnerable to the surroundings.
  8. Never try to move a utility line.
  9. If you hit, scrape, dent or damage the pipeline in any way, contact the pipeline operator.
  10. If you have a gas leak, move upwind of the hit. Alert anyone in the area to step away and call 911 when you are a safe distance from the leak. Do not operate electrical equipment, machinery or even a cell phone around a gas leak.

I hope these tips on excavating are helpful.

Related article:

Natural gas leak detection and what to do


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