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Utility Safety: Texas 811

When excavating or working around overhead utility lines, it is always important to identify all potential hazards before beginning work. Without knowing what is underground or overhead, it increases the chances for an incident to occur. Remember, that these lines might be more than just utilities such as AT&T or Comcast and could either be electrical or gas lines. If you strike one of these types of lines, it could cause serious damage and put everybody in danger.

Before any work begins, remember:

  • Dial 8-1-1 before you dig to make sure all utilities are identified and marked with the appropriate colored flag. Texas 811 is the largest one-call center in the country. When contacted, they alert utility companies to travel to your site and mark their lines.
  • Discuss the specific work area for the day and be sure all crew members are aware of the markings and potential hazards. 
  • Locate and mark all overhead and underground lines to make sure that equipment doesn't strike them. 
  • Equipment operators should also walk the work area to identify any potential hazards.
  • When milling or dumping trucks, make sure to have a spotter to watch for overhead lines so that nothing comes in contact with them.

The best way to prevent incidents is by identifying all hazards before beginning work. After contacting the one-call center, you will receive a locate number, which serves as verification that you have made the call. By law, your company is required to wait two work days before beginning excavations. Utility companies are required to mark their lines within these 48 hours. A workday is considered Monday-Friday and excludes the day of the call to 811, Sundays and holidays. Half a day on Saturday is considered a work day.

Calls to 811 must be revised every 14 days. If there is ever a question, ask your supervisor. If you strike an underground or overhead line, make sure to report it immediately so that the owner of the line can be called to repair it. Always pay attention to markings because they all have a specific meaning. Never forget, you can't dig without knowing what's underneath.

Safety Share courtesy of Casey C. Silva, Area Safety Representative, Primoris Heavy Civil

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