April is National Safe Digging Month, and PSEG Long Island reminds customers, contractors and excavators to call before digging to avoid hitting underground pipelines, conduits, wires and cables. 811 is the designated national phone number to have underground lines located and marked before projects begin around the home or business.
The safety of the community is a top priority for PSEG Long Island – especially when it comes to safe, reliable power. Social distancing continues to be an important tactic in fighting COVID-19, so PSEG Long Island reminds the public that mark-out work is performed entirely outdoors and there is no need for any interaction between the technician and the person who called to request the mark out.
“Spring is the time of year when many of us begin making improvements to our homes and businesses. Calling 811 ahead of time helps to protect underground lines and the safety of anyone digging on their properties,” said John O’Connell, PSEG Long Island vice president of Transmission and Distribution Operations. “People are getting the message. Last year there were more than 227,000 mark-out requests, and so far this year, there have been more than 40,000 requests to 811.”
A free call to 811 automatically connects the caller to the local New York one-call center, which collects information about digging projects. The one-call center then provides the information to the utility companies, which send representatives to mark the locations of nearby underground lines with flags, paint or both. Once lines have been properly marked and confirmation from all of the utility owners is received, projects may proceed as long as caution is used around the marked areas.
Every digging project, even a small project like planting a tree or building a deck, requires a call to 811. It’s the law. The call must be made whether the job is being performed by a professional or a do-it-yourselfer. Striking a single line can cause serious injury and outages, and result in repair costs and fines.
Here’s important information to consider:
- An estimated 11 million people in the United States dug last year without first having underground utility lines marked, creating a dangerous situation. Calling 811 before digging reduces the chances of damaging an underground line to less than 1%.
- Underground gas and electric lines are everywhere, even on private properties. These facilities can be easily damaged if dug into, with the potential to cause serious injuries. Digging into these lines can also disrupt vital utility services, resulting in costly delays, expensive repairs and environmental or property damage.
- Whether planning a major home improvement project or installing something as simple as a fence or mailbox post, a call must be placed beforehand to determine where it’s safe to dig.
- Call 811 at least two business days before the commencement of each job to have underground pipes, wires and equipment located. Each facility owner must respond by providing the excavator with a positive confirmation indicating that marks are in place where utility lines are buried or that there are no existing facilities in the area of the proposed work. This service is free of charge.
- Be sure to wait until all of the utilities have responded. Don’t dig until lines have been marked or you have received confirmation that the area is clear of facilities.
- Property owners must maintain and respect the marks. Always hand dig within 2 feet of marked lines to find the existing facilities before using mechanized equipment.
- If gas lines are damaged or there is a gas smell when excavating, call 911 immediately from a safe area.
Calling before you dig is more than a good idea − it’s the law. Additional information, including a booklet on safe excavating practices and the protection of underground facilities, can be found on the PSEG Long Island website.