O&R Urges All Excavators to Call 811 Before You Dig

This spring’s most important piece of power equipment for everyone from construction contractors to municipal excavators and landscapers to homeowners isn’t a backhoe, auger, bulldozer or grader.

The most important power tool is the telephone and the easy-to-remember, toll-free, one-stop number 811. That’s the nationwide One-Call Notification System’s phone number — 811 — the one number you Call Before You Dig.

One of O&R’s chief safety concerns in the operation of its natural gas system is damage to its underground natural gas equipment.

Most of that damage comes from excavators who fail to request appropriate utility company ground markings to guide them safely past that equipment. Those markings — paint on the ground or small color-coded flags — show the location of gas mains and service lines and other underground facilities.

One toll-free call to the utility notification service at 811 can help to get an excavation project safely underway. The utility notification service contacts O&R and the company will mark the location of its underground electric and gas facilities at no charge. The 811 service also will notify other utilities (telephone, cable, sewer and water) to mark their facilities as well.

Contractors, excavators, landscapers and homeowners must call 811 at least two to 10 working days before the project is due to begin.

Section 765a of the New York State General Business Law Article 36, calls for a fine of up to $2,500 for the first excavator violation and, if the same excavator damages underground facilities a second time within the same 12 months, the fine can be as high as $10,000.

If you see an active excavation site or digging project, but you don’t see flags or painted markings, please call O&R at 1-877-434-4100 and report the location.

If you smell gas, immediately leave the area and call 911, O&R’s Gas Emergency Hotline at 1-800-533-LEAK (1-800-533-5325), or your local gas utility. You can report gas leaks anonymously.

For more details about working safely around O&R’s underground and overhead equipment, see our Web site at www.oru.com. For more information about the 811 One-Call Notification System, visit the www.call811.com website.