Oregon OSHA and PUC Remind Oregonians, Call Before You Dig

Posted on April 6, 2022

Gov. Brown proclaims April as Oregon Dig Safely Month

SALEM, Ore. – In honor of Oregon Dig Safely Month, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) and Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) remind Oregonians to call 811 before digging.

Whether a professional contractor or do-it-yourselfer, all play an important role in preventing damage to underground utilities. No matter how big or small of a project, call Oregon 811 to avoid life-threatening injuries and prevent costly damage to necessary utility services. There are three easy steps to safe digging in Oregon:

  1. Call Oregon 811 (dial 811) at least two working days before starting a digging project
  2. Wait for utilities to mark the underground lines
  3. Dig carefully, paying close attention to the marks

Once a call to 811 is made, the Oregon Utility Notification Center (OUNC), which operates the free 811 one-call center, notifies the utility companies that serve the area of the planned project. Utility personnel then visit the project site to mark the approximate location of the underground lines, pipes and cables in the planned digging area at no cost to the homeowner or employer.

Meanwhile, Oregon OSHA requires employers to follow requirements to protect workers against the potential hazards of underground utilities. Those requirements include:

  1. Notifying the OUNC of the proposed area of excavations at least two working days before starting an excavation
  2. Estimating the location of utilities before opening or extending an excavation
  3. Determining by safe and acceptable means, the exact location of the estimated utility installations when excavation activities approach them
  4. While excavations are open, underground installations must be protected, supported, or removed as necessary to safeguard employees

Statistics show that a majority of line strikes occur during the warmer months when excavation and construction work is being done. In 2020 an estimated 385,381 unique damages occurred nationwide, 22 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 OSHA, and the PUC to enhance the communication link and improve safety efforts.

Call 811 or visit digsafelyoregon.com/resources/locate-requests to submit a locate request or to learn more about safe digging practices. View Governor Brown’s Oregon Dig Safely Month Proclamation at digsafelyoregon.com/news.

Oregon OSHA offers employers free consultations – no fault, no citations, no penalties – to improve workplace health and safety programs and practices. It also offers free technical help with understanding and applying workplace safety rules.

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Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules, and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, go to osha.oregon.gov

The PUC regulates customer rates and services of the state’s investor-owned electric, natural gas and telephone utilities, as well as select water companies. The PUC’s mission is to ensure Oregon utility customers have access to safe, reliable, and high quality utility services at just and reasonable rates. For more information, visit oregon.gov/puc

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