Lives Will Be Saved with New NC Underground Safety Laws
RALEIGH, N.C., July 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On July 22, the North Carolina House—in a 111-0 vote—approved legislation sought by Carolinas AGC (CAGC) that will save lives, help ensure public/workforce safety and protect vital underground utility lines. The catalyst for developing this comprehensive legislation was a fatal 2009 accident, where an excavator, operating boring equipment near Statesville, NC, hit an underground active electric line that was not properly marked.
Passage of House Bill 476 caps more than a decade of advocacy by a large group of affected stakeholders, including CAGC, and months of negotiations in the NC General Assembly this year in helping to rewrite North Carolina's underground safety laws.
The legislation was developed by a group of underground utility safety and damage prevention stakeholders from the telecommunications, gas, electric, and construction industries; including municipal/rural utilities, state and local governments, the NC Department of Transportation and others. H476 brings much needed clarity to North Carolina's "call before you dig" 811 process.
"This legislation will move North Carolina from having one of the weakest underground utility safety/damage prevention laws in the nation to what will arguably be one of the strongest," said Allen Gray, CAGC utility director who chaired a stakeholders' group in the Legislature.
Dave Simpson, NC government relations and building director for CAGC, commended Rep. Mike Hager for leading legislative efforts beginning in 2012 to put together a stakeholders' coalition; the coalition then spent months working on the proposal. "It was one of the best team efforts I have ever seen in the Legislature, with everybody focusing first on what was best for the public's safety," Simpson said, adding that Senators Tom Apodaca and Bill Rabon led Senate passage of the bill.
Some highlights of the legislation, expected to be approved by NC Governor Pat McCrory, include:
- Excavators are required to dial 811 on their phone to give notice of intent to excavate when excavating anywhere in the state. This will connect them directly to the NC811, who will notify all facility owner/operators with underground facilities in the area of proposed excavation.
- Universal participation is required by all underground facility owner/operators in the NC811 "call before you dig" process, which will ensure all underground facility owner/operators with facilities in an area of proposed excavation are notified when excavation activities are planned.
- Clarification of owner/operator responsibilities when responding to a notice of intent to excavate and identifying and marking facilities.
Carolinas AGC (CAGC) represents contractors and construction-related firms in North Carolina and South Carolina, and serves as a chapter of AGC of America and ARTBA. Through diverse partnerships, Carolinas AGC effectively innovates and shares knowledge across sectors and generations; advancing the construction industry to enhance the quality of life and deliver a sustainable difference in the Carolinas. Visit us at www.cagc.org. Watch us on YouTube. Follow us on Twitter.
SOURCE Carolinas Associated General Contractors