SALEM, Ore. – In honor of National Safe Digging Month, the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) and the Oregon Utility Notification Center (OUNC) remind Oregonians to call 811 before digging to have underground utility lines marked.
“During April and throughout the year, we remind homeowners and professional contractors to call 811 to reduce the risk of striking an underground utility line,” said Megan Decker, PUC Chair. “Striking a single line can result in costly repairs, inconvenient outages, fines, injuries, and in rare cases, fatalities.”
The OUNC, who operates the free 811 one-call center, will notify the affected utility companies that serve the area of the planned project, which may include planting a tree or shrub, building a deck, or installing a fence. Utility personnel will visit the project site to mark the approximate location of the underground lines, pipes and cables in the planned digging area.
“Never assume a digging project is too shallow and won’t hit a utility line,” said Scott Gallegos, OUNC Board Chair. “The depth of utility lines vary due to erosion, previous digging projects, or uneven surfaces, so always call 811 at least two business days ahead to have your lines located. This is the only way to know what’s below.”
Statistics show that a majority of line strikes occur June through September at a time when more yard work is being done. In 2017 an estimated 439,000 line strikes occurred nationwide, 25 percent of which were due to insufficient notice to the 811 service.
To reduce the number of line strikes in Oregon, there are strong local partnerships between the OUNC, Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the PUC to enhance the communication link and improve safety efforts.
Call 811 or visit digsafelyoregon.com to submit a locate request or to learn more about safe digging practices.