COLUMBUS — April is National Safe Digging Month and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) reminds Ohioans of the importance of digging in a safe, responsible way by calling 811 before a dig.
The Ohio Utilities Protection Service is the communication link between individuals planning to dig and utility companies. The Ohio Oil and Gas Producers Underground Protection Service coordinates with oil and gas production facilities to have underground lines marked. Ohio law requires that anyone planning a digging project msut call at least 48 hours and up to 10 days (not including weekends or legal holidays) before digging.
By calling 8-1-1, diggers will avoid potential utility outages, repair costs and serious or even fatal injuries. A national public opinion survey of homeowners conducted in February by the Common Ground Alliance, the national association dedicated to protecting underground utility lines, people who dig near them and their communities, also revealed that 47 percent of homeowners who plan to dig this year have no experience with the 811 call-before-you-dig process. The most popular planned projects cited among surveyed homeowners include planting a tree or shrub (63 percent), building a fence (35 percent), building a patio or deck (28 percent) and installing a mailbox (16 percent).
When calling before a dig, diggers should tell the operator what type of work they will be doing and their affected local utilities companies will be notified about the intent to dig. In a few days, they will send a locator to mark the approximate location of the underground lines, pipes and cables, so diggers will know what is below and can dig safely.
Commercial excavators, utility operators, designers and developers are subject to fines and/or other penalties if underground protection laws are not followed.
To learn more, visit www.oups.org, www.ogpups.org, or call 811 or 800-362-2764.