Page 10 - Mississippi 811 issue 2
P. 10

Two Main Ingredients
Some years ago, my wife and I purchased some trees at a very reputable nursery and arranged for them to be delivered and planted. As we were paying for them,
I was handed two small white flags
and was told to place them where
we wanted the trees planted. I was comfortable until I was told they would be out the next day (a Sunday) to plant them. I asked how they were going
to get locate markings in time for the excavation and they said that it was my job to do that. Delaying the planting allowed us to call which protected us but not the landscaper. I learned that this practice was not uncommon in the business and worked with OH811 field personnel to change it.
their obligations are (as noted in the opening of this article). We do exempt certain activities but rarely is any digging an exempt activity. “We were not digging that deep” or “the utility was too shallow” are frequently seen
in the response. Landowners do not understand that utilities, both privately and publicly owned can pass through their property. And the list goes on.
By Joe Igel
Failure of the Utility to Locate or Respond
The number of locate requests rises dramatically every year. Thus, the demand for locates rises while the workforce is insufficient to manage it. The matter is further complicated by a mixed message on the need for remarks and refreshes being sent to excavators. All of this drives up demand and excavators are not able to get what they require to perform their work.
The Ohio Underground Technical Committee, within the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, is charged with enforcing the dig laws in the State of Ohio. I was privileged to sit on the committee writing the legislation that created it and am privileged to sit on the committee as well.
amount of
Last year alone, we heard over one hundred cases and the number grows every year. I frequently am asked, “What are the main complaints you see?”. Amazingly, with the devotion to details when drafting what we wanted, with all the follow up, the primary complaints remain as they have been for years:
1. Failure of the excavator to call or notify.
2. Failure of the utility to locate or respond.
There are other issues that come before us, but these are by far the primary ones. But why are they still a problem?
Failure of the Excavator to Call or Notify
The message getting to the excavator is obviously incomplete. Despite advertising on media outlets, in the mail, on billboards, the message
is failing to strike its target.
Many performing excavation do not understand what constitutes excavation under the law and what
the message
8 • Mississippi 811 2023, Issue 2
There is a substantial amount of outreach to potential excavators, but the message needs to be rethought and the delivery mechanism even more
Their frustration is real. Work crews show up on-site to find an absence
of marks, or an inaccurate response via the positive response system and the result is the need to postpone and reschedule. We have witnessed delays measured in days, not hours. And this costs the excavator, the project owner and frequently all of us.
There is a
outreach to
To get needed markings for planned excavation, the solution is a bit more complicated and many of the excavators succeeding are the ones that have reached out to the utilities, met with third-party locators, been proactive in working through issues. While filing a formal complaint for lack of compliance with the law is a right and often necessary or required, the ultimate result has to be accurate and complete utility markings as promised and by the deadline. Flexibility on the part of all parties can accomplish this goal. Issuing a fine, even repeatedly, is after the fact.
excavators, but
needs to be
rethought and
the delivery
I have seen the fruits of many sit- downs between the parties and they have yielded improved results and many long-term improvements. After all, utility companies are frequently excavators themselves and in those cases, fall under the same excavating requirements. As I have discussed
in past articles, when I entered the damage prevention and underground utility protection arena, it seemed like a war was being waged. And in
a war, there are generally casualties. Do not underestimate the power and profitability of a sit-down.
Mr. Igel retired as vice president of the George J. Igel & Co., Inc. after working there for more than 35 years.
even more so.
so. To communicate more effectively with those performing excavation,
there needs to be a simple, clear message stated by everyone. I know
we have done this repeatedly, but any excavation should have it—to heck
with any exemptions or exceptions. Renting or purchasing anything that excavates, there should be a message. Farm bureaus should send a message to their members. If purchasing a mailbox online to install at home, there should be a warning. And if buying a tree to be planted, the same.

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