April is National Safe Digging Month, and it’s the perfect time to emphasize how farmers can ensure the safety of family, farms and neighbors.
“The importance of calling 811 before any digging takes place on the farm cannot be overemphasized,” said Scott DeNoon, farm product and underwriting manager for Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. “Striking a pipeline while excavating may not only result in fines and repair costs, but also the product released could damage your property and possibly result in injuries or death.”
People may not know they are supposed to contact local authorities before digging on their property. A call to 811 is the simplest way to prevent excavation damage to underground pipelines. The service is free and is required by Virginia law.
There are more than 500,000 miles of large-diameter, high-pressure pipelines crisscrossing the U.S., and most are underground. The pipelines transport much of the natural gas and liquid fuels that Americans use every day.
Pipelines can be just a few inches below the surface and easily can be damaged by work such as deep tilling, installing or repairing drain tile, digging a new well or pond, installing a septic system or installing fence posts.
Underground utilities such as electricity, sewers and gas, communications or water lines also can be damaged when digging, causing inconvenience, electrocution, contamination or flooding. Call 811 before digging to notify Miss Utility of Virginia, so that professionals can locate and mark underground utilities in advance.
“It’s a safety issue because, for the most part, you have no idea what’s in the ground. Don’t guess; make the call to ensure digging projects can be done safely,” DeNoon reiterated.