PUC Recognizes Safe Digging Month, Urges Homeowners to Delay Digging Projects During COVID-19 Emergency Declaration

HARRISBURG, PA — In conjunction with April’s recognition of National Safe Digging Month, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is reminding consumers, businesses and contractors of the importance of identifying underground infrastructure before digging – to help ensure safety – and urged homeowners to delay the beginning of their spring digging projects during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“While the Pennsylvania One Call (PA One Call or 8-1-1 System) has remained fully operational through this pandemic, we join them in asking consumers, businesses and contractors to not begin any non-essential construction,” said PUC Commissioner John F. Coleman Jr. “Delaying the start of non-essential home digging projects can help safeguard our citizens, protect utility crews and avoid accidental damage to underground lines that could disrupt utility services during this extremely stressful time.”

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The PUC noted that during this current emergency situation, utilities and 8-1-1 personnel are focused on addressing critical projects and ensuring that vital utility services and workers are safeguarded by ensuring that underground lines and facilities are properly marked before any excavation work begins. It is important to avoid sending utility crews and equipment into neighborhoods unless it is absolutely necessary – to help protect residents and those essential workers.

“This time of the year typically brings more home improvement and construction projects, and more residents may likely be considering those projects, as they now spend additional time at home,” noted Commissioner Coleman.  “Still, we urge homeowners to wait to begin any projects where digging is required, and – if excavation is absolutely necessary – to call 8-1-1 long before any work is started.”

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Safe Digging & PA One Call (8-1-1)

State law requires contractors and residents to contact PA One Call at least three business days prior to excavation – triggering alerts to all utilities within an intended digging area and prompting utilities to mark where their facilities are located. Pennsylvanians can dial 8-1-1 to connect with the One Call system, while out-of-state residents or businesses can call 1-800-242-1776.

Every year, 6,000 hits are reported on underground facilities across Pennsylvania, with each one of these incidents posing a danger to contractors, utility workers and nearby residents, along with the possibility of service interruptions, environmental damage and costly repairs to damaged lines. In addition, every hit poses a risk to emergency responders who are mobilized when lines are struck.

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