Did you know that fence builders are required to contact 811 at least 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) prior to installing a fence? While the common misconception about 811 is it’s only for large-scale digging, safe dig laws across the country require a locate request prior to any earth-moving or earth-disturbing activities. This includes using a posthole digger, driving in form pins, digging shallow holes with a hand shovel or even removing structures out of the soil such as an old fence or tree.
Beyond the legal requirements of contacting 811, having the utilities on your work site located is good for business and your safety. Knowing the approximate location of underground utilities helps you plan your job appropriately, dig safely around these facilities and avoid costly project delays, utility damages and potential state fines.
“At CenterPoint Energy, one out of every ten damages to our natural gas pipelines last year were caused by someone building a fence. Hitting a gas line can be very dangerous and expensive. For fencing professionals, contacting 811 at least 48 hours before starting a job is critical to your safety and your project’s bottom line.”Ashley Babcock, Director of Damage Prevention and Public Awareness, CenterPoint Energy
Before requesting utility locates, gather the following details about the jobsite to provide to 811:
- City, county and township
- Project location (include street address and nearest cross street)
- Type and extent of work (indicate if you are only working in the front, rear or side of property)
- Project start date and time
Next, make the free call to 811 or submit a free request online at Texas811.org. After submitting a request to 811, document your ticket number and list of utility companies in the area of your project. Trained technicians will mark the location of buried utilities with colored flags, stakes and/or paint, at no cost to you.
To speed up the physical process of locating your jobsite, it is recommended you mark the perimeter of your planned work area with white paint or flags. This tells the trained locating technician where you plan to work and helps that person avoid locating areas of a property that you won’t be working in. For example, if you’re building a fence in the backyard, mark the perimeter of the backyard with white paint indicating you don’t need buried utilities in the front or side yards located.
After waiting the state-required 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays), you can begin your project. Avoid damaging, moving or altering the paint and flags. If marks become faded or destroyed, submit another request to 811.
Locate tickets expire after 14 working days of your job site being marked. If your work on the job site will last longer than 14 working days, contact 811 for a remark between the 10th and 12th working day to avoid digging on expired marks.
Following this process and working carefully around the marks will help you and your coworkers stay safe, finish your project on time and avoid costly utility damages and potential state fines.