For the second consecutive year, Verizon joins the Common Ground Alliance and its 1,400 members across the U.S. to recognize April as National Safe Digging Month. The month is dedicated to bringing attention to the importance of calling before digging and increasing the public's awareness of 811, the national, free call-before-you-dig number.
A key goal of Safe Digging Month is to increase the number of people who call 811, which was established in 2005 by the Federal Communications Commission to prevent the unintentional strike of underground utility lines while digging.
"Safe digging is a shared responsibility," said Diane McCarthy, senior vice president of global network field operations at Verizon and a Common Ground Alliance (CGA) board member. "Not only is it critical to the safety of Verizon employees and the integrity of our network, safe digging practices protect the underground infrastructure of all utilities. Equally important, our professional locators have the responsibility to respond in a timely manner and to accurately mark our underground facilities when others are digging."
Verizon's thousands of miles of network in the U.S. serve more than 100 million customers, including 98 percent of the Fortune 500, and carry an average of 1 billion landline calls per day.
The company promotes awareness of safe digging by distributing hats, gloves and other promotional items with the 811 logo. The items are given to Verizon field operations personnel who have cable locating, maintenance and emergency repair responsibilities; outside plant engineering personnel who are responsible for construction, protection, location and permanent restoration activities; and excavators, locators, municipal employees and right-of-way providers with whom Verizon works.
In addition, the company is outfitting its fleet vehicles with 811 bumper stickers.
Failure to call 811 contributed to an estimated 75,000 underground utility damages in 2008, according to industry data compiled by the CGA, the international organization dedicated to protecting underground utility lines and the safety of people who dig near them.
"The fact that more than half of American homeowners who plan to dig this year don't think their projects require a phone call to 811 is a troubling statistic," said CGA President Bob Kipp. "Information like that illustrates the need for a National Safe Digging Month and serves as a reminder to all Americans that potential dangers that are out of sight shouldn't also be out of mind."
As part of National Safe Digging Month, Verizon encourages taking the following steps when planning a digging project:
- 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 lines to be marked.
- Confirm with your local one-call center that all lines have been marked.
- Visit www.call811.com/faqs to learn what the various colors of paint and flags represent.
- Consider moving the location of your project if it is near utility line markings.
- If another location is not viable, respect the marks and avoid using mechanized digging equipment near them.
- 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.
For more information about 811, click here.
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 www.commongroundalliance.com.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, NASDAQ:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 91 million customers nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers innovative, seamless business solutions to customers around the world. A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of approximately 222,900 and last year generated consolidated revenues of more than $107 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.