Whether it’s watching cable television, showering, or just keeping the lights on, public utilities are vital to our daily activities and are part of our country’s critical infrastructure. Many of these--like energy transportation pipelines--are buried right beneath our homes, schools, and offices. For everyone's sake, they need to be protected from potential damage.
From DIY backyard landscaping to large construction projects, striking buried pipeline is a leading cause of pipeline-related death and injury and can lead to service outages for entire communities.
But all of that is preventable with a call to 811 before digging.
811 is a toll-free nationwide number that excavators should call 2 to 3 days before digging. The call prompts local utility operators to send a representative to mark underground utilities with paint, flags and other color-coded markers. All of this is free, and it can save your life.
Last week, the Administrator of DOT’s pipeline safety agency, Cynthia Quarterman, joined the Ohio Utilities Protection Service (OUPS) for their 3rd Annual Ohio Damage Prevention Summit to thank them for their safety efforts, and to remind everyone to call 811 before digging. In my absence, Administrator Quarterman also read a letter of appreciation from me to Summit organizers and participants.
The only one of its kind in Ohio, the OUPS Summit gathers excavators and utility companies together to enhance communication between them. The ultimate goal? Safe, undisrupted utilities...even when there’s nearby digging activity.
Nearly every state requires excavators to place a prior call so local operators can mark buried utilities. State damage prevention laws protect construction and utility workers as well as everyday people from the risks of damage. This year’s Summit also drew lawmakers who have successfully advocated for the first updates to Ohio’s damage prevention law in 22 years.
The Summit keynote speaker, two-time Olympian Cliff Meidl, delivered perhaps the most compelling story yet about the importance of calling 811 before you dig.
Thankfully, we can prevent serious incidents like this with a prior call to 811. After recovering and rigorously training for Olympic kayaking, Cliff is sharing his story to inspire and teach audiences across the country about calling 811 a few days before digging.
At DOT, we enforce safety along America’s 2.6 million miles of energy transportation pipelines. But we don’t do it alone. As in many other states, Ohio state officials work alongside DOT regional staff to ensure that pipeline standards are met so our homes and businesses are running safely and efficiently.
And with more than 72,000 miles of pipelines crisscrossing the state, Ohio officials and organizations understand the importance of stepping up utility damage prevention efforts. Last year alone, OUPS processed nearly one million requests from Ohio residents seeking to get their utilities located before digging.
This year, let’s follow Ohio’s example nationwide by continuing to calling 811 first.
Safety is our top priority at DOT, and we’re always happy to have partners like Cliff Meidl and the OUPS, who are spreading the word about damage prevention and 811 throughout National Safe Digging Month.
DOT and state officials are working to make sure pipelines are safe, but you can play a part in pipeline safety as well. Regardless of your profession or tool, safe digging always starts with a call to 811 a few days before breaking the ground.
Know what’s below; call 811 before you dig.