Promoting Safe Digging Practices

With April being National Safe Digging Month, take the opportunity to help educate others on safe excavation practices like calling 811 in advance of any digging projects

Promoting Safe Digging Practices

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As a member of the Common Ground Alliance, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers is supporting National Safe Digging Month in April and asking its 1,000-plus members to spread awareness of the need to call 811 before any digging projects — no exceptions.

According to CGA, 58% of American homeowners personally plan to complete a home improvement project involving digging, such as gardening, building a fence or deck, or installing a mailbox in the next 12 months. This statistic alone shows how important it is to raise awareness around underground line safety and reduce the risk of unnecessary infrastructure damage. 

“Safety is always top of mind for AEM, its members and the customers they serve,” says John Somers, AEM vice president, Construction & Utility Sector. “In recognizing National Safe Digging Month, we reaffirm that commitment to being safety conscious and bringing awareness to the importance of safe digging.”

With that fact in mind, AEM encourages everyone planning a digging project to take the following steps:

  • Always call 811 a few days in advance of a digging project, no matter the depth or familiarity with the property.
  • Plan ahead and provide ample time for the approximate location of lines to be marked.
  • Confirm all lines have been marked with the one-call service, and look for evidence of any utilities that may have been missed, as well as ensure all underground utilities are located prior to excavating.
  • Strongly consider moving the location of the project if it’s near utility line markings.
  • Know the tolerance zone in the state where the project is taking place. The exact distance that defines this area varies from state to state, along with the tools used to safely and effectively expose a buried facility.
  • If a contractor has been hired, confirm a call to 811 has been made, and don’t allow work to begin if lines haven’t been marked.
  • Each and every state offers its own 811 call center to help with digging efforts, and 811 representatives take information about impending projects and notify appropriate utility companies to mark buried lines so digging can safely occur around them.

AEM works diligently to promote 811 in a variety of different ways, including:

  • AEM Safety Manuals provide information on how to use “Call 811.”
  • AEM member companies promote “Call 811” on their websites and through advertisement sliders and editorials.
  • Manufacturers place “Call 811” signage on their equipment.
  • Manufacturers post “811 Know What’s Below” stickers on their equipment.
  • References and instructions to “Call 811” are printed in their equipment operator’s manuals.
  • “Call 811” is mentioned in every safety video that involves breaking ground.
  • “Call 811” is mentioned in safety toolbox talks.
  • “Call 811” events are posted on social media outlets.
  • Use CGA’s website and marketing materials.

“AEM is committed to championing a culture of safety, and we encourage both our members and the industry at-large to do the same by supporting National Safe Digging Month and promoting safe digging practices,” says Jaime Vos, director of AEM’s Safety Materials Program, which offers an extensive array of  safety manuals, videos and related training materials.


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