Risk Advisor at HNI
April’s not just the month before “May Flowers” – it’s also National Safe Digging Month.
Every six minutes, an underground utility line is accidentally damaged, according to the 2013 Common Ground Alliance DIRT (Damage Information Reporting Tool) Report.
This time of the year is a good opportunity to remind employees (whether at home or on the job) to call 811 and follow the safe digging procedures to help avoid injuries, prevent property damage, and steer clear of inconvenient power outages.
Tell Your Employees to “Call Before You Dig”
811 is a national call line that will redirect you to your local resource on safe digging. [If you have large thumbs… make sure NOT to dial 911!]
When calling 811, just tell the operator the location of the site where you’re planning to dig, what type of work you’re doing, and they will notify local utility companies. Within a few days, they’re send out a rep to mark any underground lines, pipes and cables so you know what lies below and can get the job done safely.
Calls generally must be made 3 buisiness days ahead of putting any shovels in the ground. You can file an emergency ticket if digging must happen within 3 business days (must meet certain criteria).
If you're doing work outside of the state that you're located in, the national referral number is 1-888-258-0808.
Controlling Exposures Related to Digging
The average utility damage claim is approximately $25,000. If a strike does occur, there are steps you can take to your control exposures and contain losses. Best practices for contractors include:
- Take daily photos of the work site
- Check utility marks to make sure all known utilities have been located
- If a strike does occur, first focus on making the site safe
- As soon as possible, gather detailed documentation of where the marks were in relation to the excavation as well as any photos, diagrams, and statements from witnesses at the site
Collecting these facts immediately positions you well for handling any claims or litigation that may follow an incident.
P.S. - April is also:
- National Humor Month
- International Guitar Month
- Keep America Beautiful Month
- National Poetry Month
- National Pecan Month
…but you’re on your own for tips marking those occasions!