According to a recent study, about 40 percent of natural gas line damages involve lines cut because of errors by contractors, construction workers or residents. Most of these incidents are avoidable.
In honor of National 811 Day to promote safe digging awareness, Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSE&G), New Jersey’s largest utility, reminds customers, contractors and excavators to call 811 to request a mark-out before digging to avoid hitting underground pipelines, conduits, wires and cables. The service is free, and absolutely critical to avoiding injuries and disruptions to vital utility services.
”Summer and spring are the peak seasons for accidental damages to gas lines by contractors, construction workers or residents,” said Joe Forline, PSE&G vice president of gas operations. “In fact, every year PSE&G responds to about 660 of these incidents.”
When you call 811, you are automatically connected to the New Jersey one-call center, which collects information about your digging project. The one-call center then provides the information to the utility companies, who will send representatives to mark the locations of underground lines in the immediate vicinity of the planned work location with flags, paint or both. Once lines have been properly marked and your request becomes valid, you are free to carefully dig around the marked areas.
Every digging project, even a small project like planting a tree or building a deck, requires a call to 811. Call 811 at least three full business days before beginning any landscape or digging project on your property. In New Jersey, the marks are valid for 45 business days. The call must be made whether you are hiring a professional or planning to do the job yourself. Striking a single line can cause serious injuries as well as outages, resulting in repair costs and fines.
Here’s important information to consider:
- Underground electric, gas, communications and water lines are everywhere, even on private property. You can easily damage them if you don’t know where they are, with the potential to seriously injure yourself or others. Digging into these lines also can disrupt the vital utility services and result 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, mailbox post, For Sale or baby announcement sign, a call must be placed beforehand to know where it’s safe to dig.
- Call 811 at least three full business days before each job to have underground pipes, wires and equipment located. Utility workers will respond and place markers where utility lines are buried, free of charge.
- Be sure to wait three full business days after calling before doing any digging. Don’t dig until lines have been marked.
- If you hired a contractor, confirm that a call to 811 has been made. Do not allow work to begin if the lines are not marked.
- Property owners must maintain and respect the marks. Always hand dig within two feet of marked lines.
- Various colors are used when marking lines. Learn what each color represents by reviewing this damage prevention booklet. Additional information is available at www.pseg.com/call811.