Safe Digging with Alabama 811

Posted by on Mar 31, 2020 in Best Practices, Safety | No Comments

The world looks different today than it did yesterday. As we face the unknown of the coronavirus, Sain Associates will continue to bring weekly content to the blog. We find comfort in providing uplifting news but also bringing a sense of routine while we navigate through this fluid environment. 

By: Matt Lackey, Survey- UAS/Drone Pilot

Whether you are an engineer, contractor, or property owner, you play an essential role in keeping people safe with every dig. Safe digging begins with calling Alabama 811. Alabama 811 is dedicated to preventing damage to Alabama’s underground utilities and promoting public safety. The organization functions as a communication system, connecting member utility companies with contractors and homeowners who are planning digging activities such as excavation, grading, or demolition. When someone contacts the 811 call center with a digging project, Alabama 811 notifies member utility companies of the planned project.  The member utility company visits the digging site to mark locations of underground lines. Flagging the location of underground utilities before any type of digging project is the most effective way to prevent serious injuries and to reduce damage to the utilities we all rely on every day.

At the beginning of this year, Alabama 811 hosted a Lunch & Learn for our staff. Many topics were discussed, but the majority of the presentation focused on changes to the Alabama State Code, specifically changes to the Damage Prevention Legislation (Alabama Senate Bill 315). The purpose of the legislation is to safeguard against injury or loss of life due to excavation or demolition and to protect underground facilities from costly damage and the interruption of utility or other services to the general public. The legislation addresses three key areas: membership, enforcement, and operational changes. The updated legislation went into effect on January 1, 2020, and created significant changes for the utility industry in Alabama. For example, Section 37-15-5 requires all utility providers in the State of Alabama to become a member of the Alabama 811 System. Before this change, certain utility providers were exempt from participating in the program. Now, utility owners will have two years to become members of the system. Also, Section 37-15-10 explains that civil penalties can be enforced if a violation of the Act occurs and that an Underground Damage Prevention Fund has been established and will be funded by levied violation penalties.

Surveyors do not have x-ray vision, but they can mitigate potential liability and severe injuries by knowing the law. By following protocol, our surveyors will have a thorough view of underground utilities and will have the resources to deliver products to our clients in a timely fashion.

For more information on the Alabama 811 process, visit http://www.al811.com/ and for more details on the Damage Prevention Legislation visit http://www.al811.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/SB315OverviewHandout.pdf

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