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Safe Digging Practices

Knowing and using Safe Digging Practices are essential to the excavators and the public’s Safety. The reality of working around underground facilities is that sometimes even though every precaution is taken, damages still occur. But, there are several precautions you can take when digging to dramatically cut down the odds of damaging underground utilities.

Here are some of the most important Do’s and Don’ts of Safe Digging Practices.

First the Do’s:

  • White line the dig site area to define your dig site. This will ensure that the entire area of excavation is located properly.
  • Provide an accurate description of the dig site when placing your locate request.
  • Hand dig within the approximate location. There is a 2 foot hand dig zone on either side of the marked buried facility. Hand digging will allow you to determine the exact location and expose the facility. This is the safest way to make sure that you don’t damage the underground facility.
  • When hand digging, keep the blade of the shovel parallel with the marks.
  • Protect and support the facilities when exposed and backfill carefully to prevent damage to facilities and their coatings, and to provide support beneath to prevent the collapse or sagging of the facilities.
  • Call in a “Remark” if the marks become unclear at your dig site. Work disturbance and weather can cause the markings to become obliterated, obscured, missing or incorrect. Never go off your memory of where the marks were. Be safe. Contact Missouri One Call for a “Remark”.

Now, the Don’ts.

  • Do not work off of someone else’s marks or ticket.
  • Never allow anyone to dig on your property without contacting Missouri One Call first.
  • Don’t begin work without confirming utilities’ responses.
  • Don’t assume that facilities always run straight between markers.
  • Never assume the depth of a facility or that the depth will stay the same.
  • Don’t assume that an unmarked line is abandoned.
  • Don’t take for granted the exposed utility line is the only one there.
  • Don’t use picks, mattocks, pry bars or hand or mechanically dig within the “Approximate Location”
  • Do not remove the flags or paint marks until you are finished with your work.

It’s important to know and understand these safe digging practices to protect underground utilities. Practicing safe digging will keep you, your family, neighbors, property and services safe.

Let’s Go through the Most Common Causes of Damages.

  1. Working without a request.
  2. Working outside the area described on the locate request.
  3. Beginning excavation before the start date and time.
  4. Failure to exercise due care while digging, blind boring or directional drilling in the “approximate location” of underground utilities.
  5. Beginning work before all utilities at the site have marked or responded
  6. Assuming the depth of a facility.
  7. Assuming that the “approximate location” marks are exactly accurate and mechanically digging right up to the marks.

Become a partner in damage prevention. Be safe. Know what’s below. Call or click before you dig. And, dig with care.

MO One Call