WASHINGTON, March 30, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the organization dedicated to protecting underground utility lines and the safety of people who dig near them, today announced results from a recent survey that found 49 percent of Americans who plan to dig this year will put their community's safety at risk by not calling 811 to learn the approximate location of underground utilities.
There are more than 100 billion feet of underground utilities in the United States, according to data compiled by CGA from various industry groups.
Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities increases the likelihood of an incident, which can cause serious injuries, service disruptions and repair costs. An underground utility line is damaged by digging once every three minutes nationwide, and one-third of these incidents are caused because the digger did not call 811, according to CGA data.
Everyone who calls 811 a few days before digging is connected to a local one-call notification center that will take the caller's information and communicate it to local utility companies. A professional locator will then visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of underground utility lines with spray paint or flags. Once a site has been accurately marked, it is safe to begin digging around the marked areas.
The national public opinion survey of 689 homeowners, conducted March 17-21, also found that 69 percent of Americans believe they would be unlikely to damage or disturb an underground utility if they were to dig without calling 811 to determine the approximate location of the lines.
"The results of this survey are concerning because the math just doesn't add up in safety's favor," said CGA President Bob Kipp. "With millions of shovels entering the ground near billions of feet of unmarked underground utilities this year, we will continue to see damages occurring every few minutes, leading to inconvenient outages, and in worst-case scenarios bodily harm, not just for the do-it-yourselfers, but for entire communities."
CGA's 1,400 members and most governors have proclaimed April as National Safe Digging Month as a way to bring extra attention to the issue and reduce the risk of unnecessary infrastructure damage.
As part of National Safe Digging Month, CGA encourages homeowners to take the following steps when planning a digging project this spring:
- Always call 811 a few days before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property.
- Plan ahead. Call on Monday or Tuesday for work planned for an upcoming weekend, providing ample time for the approximate location of lines to be marked.
- Confirm with your local one-call center that all lines have been marked.
- Learn what the various colors of paint and flags represent at http://www.call811.com/faqs.
- Consider moving the location of your project if it is near utility line markings.
- If a contractor has been hired, confirm that a call to 811 has been made. Don't allow work to begin if the lines aren't marked.
CGA is a member-driven association of nearly 1,400 individuals, organizations and sponsors in every facet of the underground utility industry. Established in 2000, CGA is committed to saving lives and preventing damage to underground infrastructure by promoting effective damage prevention practices. CGA has established itself as the leading organization in an effort to reduce damages to underground facilities in North America through shared responsibility among all stakeholders. For more information, visit CGA on the web at http://www.commongroundalliance.com.
About the study
International Communications Research (ICR) conducted a national omnibus phone study between March 17 and 21, 2011, on behalf of CGA. A total of 689 American homeowners ages 18+ were asked for their opinions on home and property improvement project topics. The survey had a margin of error that varied from +-2.2 percent to +-5.7 percent, depending on the particular survey question.
SOURCE Common Ground Alliance