SALEM, Ore. – In recognition of National Safe Digging Month, the Oregon Utility Notification Center (OUNC), Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA), and Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) remind Oregonians to contact 811 before starting projects that require digging.
Whether a professional contractor or do-it-yourselfer, all play an important role in preventing damage to underground utilities. No matter how big or small a project, contact Oregon 811 to avoid life-threatening injuries and prevent costly damage to necessary utility services. There are three easy steps to safe digging in Oregon:
- Submit a locate request at least two business days before starting a digging project at Oregon811.com or by calling 811.
- Wait for utilities to mark the underground lines.
- Dig carefully, paying close attention to the marks.
Once a locate request is made, the OUNC, which operates the free 811 one-call center, notifies the utility companies that serve the area of the planned project. Utility personnel then visit the project site to mark the approximate location of the underground lines, pipes, and cables in the planned digging area at no cost to the homeowner or employer.
Meanwhile, employers must follow Oregon OSHA requirements to protect workers against the potential hazards of underground utilities. Those requirements include:
- Notifying OUNC of the proposed area of excavations at least two working days before starting an excavation.
- Estimating the location of utilities before opening or extending an excavation.
- Determining by safe and acceptable means, the exact location of the estimated utility installations when excavation activities approach them.
- While excavations are open, underground installations must be protected, supported, or removed as necessary to safeguard employees.
Statistics show that a majority of line strikes occur during the warmer months when excavation and construction work is being done. In 2021 an estimated 192,745 unique instances of damage occurred nationwide, 17 percent of which were due to insufficient notice to the 811 service.
To reduce the number of line strikes in Oregon, there are strong local partnerships between OUNC, Oregon OSHA, and the PUC to enhance the communication link and improve safety efforts.
Visit Oregon811.com or call 811 to submit a locate request or to learn more about safe digging practices.
Oregon OSHA offers employers free consultations – no fault, no citations, no penalties – to improve workplace health and safety programs and practices. It also offers free technical help with understanding and applying workplace safety rules.
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