Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Call 811 Before You Dig

In March 1994, a 36-inch natural gas pipeline ruptured and exploded near the Durham Woods apartment complex in Edison, New Jersey, sending a massive fireball 500 feet into the air and lighting the night sky for miles around.  Eight apartment buildings were destroyed, over a hundred people were left homeless, and scores were injured.

An investigation by the NTSB determined that the blast was caused by earlier damage from excavation equipment that had gouged and weakened the pipe.  As a result of these findings, New Jersey passed a law requiring all property owners and contractors to call a “Once Call” telephone hotline prior to any digging to have all underground utilities located and precisely marked.  By 1996, the One Call system had become national practice, and in 2005, the FCC established 8-1-1 as the nationwide number to call for all local utility location services.

Though damage to underground utilities is seldom as catastrophic as the Edison gas explosion, it can seriously disrupt vital services, cause property damage and injury, and result in costly repairs, fines and project delays.  A few days before any digging project, large or small, contractors or property owners are legally required to place a call to 8-1-1.  The One Call center will notify local utility companies to dispatch locators to mark out underground utilities with paint, flags, and stakes.  Different utilities are color-coded – red for electricity, yellow for gas, orange for communications, blue for water, green for sewer, etc.

Because One Call utility locators only mark lines leading to meters, contractors must also examine accurate as-built drawings and confer with facility owners prior to digging in order to precisely identify, locate and mark private underground utilities using the color code system.  Sites should also be carefully inspected for other telltale signs of unknown buried utilities or hazards that might exist.  These markings must be carefully preserved, and contractors must follow strict regulations and procedures when digging in close proximity to underground utilities.
When digging, an error of just a few inches can spell disaster.  So whether you are a homeowner installing a mailbox or a contractor breaking ground for a large facility, remember to call 8-1-1 before digging and mark out underground utilities.  It’s the law.

About R. Baker & Son All Industrial Services

R. Baker & Son All Industrial Services is the premier specialized contractor in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.  The Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB) has been in business since 1935, has over 100 employees, an exemplary safety record (We have been directly involved in four (4) sites that received VPP OSHA Safety Awards) and is financially strong (bonding capabilities over $10 Million).  Capabilities include industrial and commercial demolition, rigging, machinery & plant moving, dismantling, decommissioning, plant and equipment relocation, interior demolition, wrecking, selective demolition , demolition contractors in NJ and warehousing.

R. Baker & Son All Industrial Services
1 Globe Street
Red Bank, NJ 07701
Phone: 732-222-3553
Fax: 732-450-0311