What is 811 Day? Know what’s below. Call before you dig.

National 811 Day is an annual reminder for individuals, organizations, and communities to take proactive measures to prevent damage to underground utilities. It both raises awareness and emphasizes the importance of safe digging.

We were fortunate enough to talk to a utility location specialist who has been in the field for over 13 years. (Be sure to subscribe to our blog for the latest news, trends, and tips in the construction industry!)

This blog aims to keep DIY enthusiasts, contractors, and average Joes safe and informed while looking to start their next underground project.

Did you know? Underground utilities can be just inches below the surface, and digging through one of these lines can cause severe injury or even death.  

What is 811?

811 is a free phone number used to request a locating company to mark underground utilities of a property before beginning excavation work. Calling 811 is free and required by law! This service will automatically direct you to a representative in your state who will ask simple questions about the parameters of the project.

Who should call 811?

Anyone planning to excavate or dig on their property should call 811 at least two business days before beginning work. This includes homeowners, contractors, landscapers, and anyone else who will be using a shovel, backhoe, or other excavation equipment. 

When should you call 811?

You should call 811 at least two business days before you plan to start digging. This provides enough time for companies to respond and mark the lines’ locations. However, it’s not just about meeting the minimum requirement – it’s also about being considerate and responsible. Aim to reach out well in advance to ensure a smooth process and demonstrate your commitment to safe and proper procedures.

Learn how job site supervisors can improve safety in construction.

Information to have ready when you call 811

You should be prepared with the address of your intended digging location, along with the county and the nearest cross street. The same information will be required if you opt for a call to 811 or an online request. 

Wade Averett, Co-Owner and President of The Locators in Northern Wyoming stated, “It’s really nice when we arrive at the property, and the dig area is marked out.” Wade and his crew locate anywhere from 10 to over 50 properties daily! Having your dig area marked in white paint is one small but helpful way to save time.

What happens after you call 811?

After 811 has responded to your representative, the locating company has 48 hours to locate utilities. 

The company will come out and mark the location of any underground utility lines with colored flags or paint. The colors of the flags or paint indicate what type of utility line is underground.

what is 811, color code for underground utilities

Is calling 811 required by law?

Yes. Calling 811 is required by law. Failing to call 811 before starting excavation work can result in fines, utility outages, and serious injuries, sometimes resulting in death.

Who is responsible when unmarked lines are dug through?

Hopefully, any unmarked lines that get damaged are abandoned. In the case it’s not, it will depend on your state’s laws, specific to each situation.

Who is responsible when marked lines are dug through?

The operator/company that dug through the line is responsible for repairs. Wade reported, “Locators get a 2ft variance space from the outside edge of the utility. Our locates have to be within that 2ft, or we are responsible for damages.”

Locators, operators, supervisors, employees, and the general public are responsible for calling 811 before starting underground projects. 

In conclusion

National 811 Day is a crucial reminder to dig responsibly. Our blog is your go-to guide for DIYers and pros alike, emphasizing the importance of calling 811 before any digging project. Let’s dig smart and keep our projects and communities safe!