It’s 8/11. What do you need to do before you plant a tree, install a fence, deck or mailbox?

By Domenick Graziani

811 logoToday, August 11, or 8/11, is National 8-1-1 Day. It’s an ideal date for utilities like National Grid to spread awareness to the public and contractors about the lawful requirement to call 8-1-1 and get underground facilities marked before any digging or excavation begins on your property.

“Each time one of our pipelines is damaged by a third party – either by a homeowner or contractor – we know that almost 100 percent of the time it could’ve been prevented by calling 8-1-1,” says Bob Terjesen, Manager of Damage Prevention, downstate NY. “It’s actually the easiest way to prevent damage as data shows that there is less than a one percent chance of damaging an underground facility after you call.”

Each time our pipes are damaged, it impacts our customers, and usually requires fire, police and emergency response resulting from possible fire and injury. The damage could also result in fines for the party that damages the facility and a bill for repair costs. This takes a toll on company resources as well, as our workforce is diverted from planned work to perform repairs that need immediate attention.

According to the Common Ground Alliance, the national percentage of damage attributed to not calling 8-1-1 is consistently at about 25 percent of all reported incidents. And Dig Safely New York says an underground line is damaged nationally every six minutes.

811 mark out - BrooklynIn our downstate NY service area, the New York City region’s performance has been consistently around 20 percent. (See photo at right for 8-1-1 mark out in Bushwick, Brooklyn). Long Island, however, comes in at the higher end of the scale at about 35-38 percent over the last four years. .

Bob explains: “Many Long Island excavators and contractors feel that the type of work they do is exempt from calling 8-1-1. Some don’t know about the 8-1-1 program and many don’t realize that it’s a state code and the law.” (See photo below for 8-1-1 activities in East Meadow, Long Island).

Bob says the company is stepping up public awareness campaigns to both homeowners and contractors. In addition, we have a PEx (Performance Excellence) team brainstorming ideas on ways to educate Long Island municipalities and contractors as they apply for work permits that require opening the roadways.

“We hope that this will continue to raise 8-1-1 awareness and help drive down these incidents,” adds Bob. “I’m also asking employees to share this important information with their family, friends and neighbors.”

Additional resources:
Put safety first and call 8-1-1 before you dig ( story)
Dig and Stay Safe ( page)
New York 811 website
Dig Safely New York website
Common Ground Alliance website

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