Digging Around Buried Facilities

Before you can use mechanized digging equipment in a tolerance zone, the presence and location of the buried facility must be verified, by hand-dug test holes or vacuum excavation. If it is necessary to remove pavement or masonry, mechanized equipment can be used, but only to the depth of that pavement or masonry.

If you are unable to locate the facility after performing a reasonable search, do not start the excavation. Contact the facility owner directly, and they will come to the site. Once the facility is located, mechanized digging equipment can be used.

If you will be exposing a facility during your excavation, you will be required to provide adequate support and protection for it. In addition, you will be required to provide an adequate backfill upon completion.

Known and Unknown Buried Facilities

While digging around buried facilities, an excavator can contact or damage a buried facility, find an unknown or unmarked facility, or locate a facility in danger of failing.

Contacting or Damaging a Buried Facility

If you come into contact with or damage a buried facility, you must:

  • Immediately notify the facility operator of the contact or damage
  • Stop all excavation in the immediate area

If you come into contact with or damage a buried facility, you must not:

  • Ignore it
  • Attempt to repair it
  • Bury, hide, or perform any backfilling in the immediate area

If the contact or damage causes an emergency involving danger to life, health, or property, you must immediately:

  • Evacuate your employees and all other endangered persons from the immediate vicinity, to the best of your ability
  • Inform the local police, fire department, and operator of the affected facility of the following:
    • Exact location of the emergency
    • Nature of the emergency
    • Type of underground facility affected

Finding an unmarked or unknown facility

If you discover an unknown or unmarked facility at the site:

  • Notify the facility owner directly; they will respond immediately and inform you whether the excavation may proceed in the immediate area.
  • Call Dig Safely New York if the facility owner is not clear. All member facilities will respond immediately and determine if the facility is theirs. The facility owner will then inform you whether the excavation may proceed in the immediate area.
  • While awaiting response, proceed with the excavation and protect the unknown facility from contact or damage.

Locating a facility in danger of Failing

If you locate a facility that is in danger of failing:

  • Immediately notify the facility operator, or contact Dig Safely New York if the facility owner is unknown.
  • Stop any work in the immediate vicinity that could cause further harm to the facility, until the operator advises you to proceed.