Tips for Safe Digging

To keep crews and the community safe, even contractors need simple reminders when it comes to digging.

Tips for Safe Digging

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Contractors play an extremely important role in protecting the utility infrastructure throughout the country. Every now and then those contractors need reminders of procedures to be safe and remain safe on job sites.

Georgia 811 offered several reminders of those safe digging procedures as well as some tips for digging.


Safe digging starts when you contact 811 at least three business days before beginning any mechanized work.

The service is free and helps prevent damage to utility facilities. In the state of Georgia, you are required to contact 811 before mechanized digging per the Georgia Utility Facility Protection Act. Over 70% of Georgia’s tickets are submitted online at, but excavators can also simply dial 811 on their phones to have a customer service representative process their ticket.

To find out what your state’s laws and requirements are, dial 811 anywhere in the country and be directed to your state’s one-call center.


Wait the required time to begin digging. Facility owners and operators have until the response due date — listed on your ticket — to mark their lines and respond electronically to your ticket.


Georgia 811 provides a service called the Positive Response Information System to help you track the status of your locate request. It can be accessed through the Georgia 811 website or by downloading the Georgia 811 Excavator App.

Many other states have a similar program. Be sure to find out what is available in your area.

Once all utilities have responded with a marked, clear, or no conflict code, excavators may begin digging.


Every state is different, but in Georgia you may not use mechanized equipment within 18 inches of an underground facility. Be sure to find out what the laws are in the state that you are working in, most are within the 18-24 inches area.

Once utility owners and operators have identified their facilities with flakes, stakes or spray paint; contractors should pothole to determine the exact location of underground facilities and then keep machinery the required distance away from the outer edges of the facility.

The area within each outer edge of a facility is called the tolerance zone. If digging within the tolerance zone, hand tools and vacuum methods should be used.


811 recommends that all contractors take some type of damage prevention competent person training. Some of these training courses can be found on your state’s 811 page.

In Georgia, the course is comprised of seven different training topics with the entire training lasting approximately one hour. The course is free, online and also available in Spanish. For more information, visit:

For more information on safe digging and 811, go to 


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