No matter how small the project, everyone from homeowners to contractors alike should know the importance of calling before digging; yet some still choose to cut corners. Knowing where underground lines are buried before each digging project is crucial to help prevent injury, expense, and penalties. An obvious advocate of this practice, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), Arlington, Va., recently became the first national partner to join the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) in the new 811 “Know What's Below — Call Before You Dig” crusade.

A new FCC-designated national N-11 number, 811 was created to eliminate confusion of multiple “Call Before You Dig” numbers across the country. It is not designed to eliminate existing numbers but rather work alongside them. “As an 811 partner, we continue our commitment to protecting the excavator, the public, and to overall job site safety,” says AGC CEO Stephen E. Sandherr.

This service will connect callers with local call centers who notify the appropriate local utilities, who then send crews to the requested site to mark the approximate location of underground lines for free. The 811 campaign is already live in some parts of the country and will be used nationwide later this year.

“811 is a win-win situation for our industry and the general public,” explains Sandherr. “This will serve to eliminate confusion, increase the number of professional and homeowner excavators using the state one call systems, and undoubtedly save lives.”

AGC played a central role in securing provisions in the Pipeline Safety Reauthorization Bill, signed into law in December by the President, which establishes equitable enforcement of damage prevention laws for all stakeholders in the one-call process and secures funding for critical technology research as well as the national 811 awareness program. For more information about the 811 program or status in your area, visit www.call811.com.