Governor Kathy Hochul Signs Bill Protecting 19 Million Residents Indefinitely with Increased Education and Underground Utility Safety

EAST SYRACUSE, N.Y. (October 09, 2021) — Governor Kathy Hochul on Friday signed landmark legislation protecting 19 million residents indefinitely from hazards related to excavation-related accidents. This law makes permanent the requirement for any local government or operator that contracts for excavation of underground facilities to require the excavator to complete the training and education program provided by the state’s one-call notification system, or qualified program, pursuant to the Public Service Commission, prior to excavation. Dig Safely New York is part of the state’s one-call system and provides education efforts designed to prevent excavation-related damages to the state’s ever-expanding underground infrastructure.

Every year, damages caused by excavation equipment result in thousands of interruptions to utility services including natural gas, telephone, cable, water, and sewer. Dig Safely New York trains thousands of individuals each year in damage prevention to underground facilities. This bill ensures that all excavators continue to complete this important training beyond the law’s current sunset date of October 1, 2021, furthering the prevention of excavation-related accidents and protection of the public. Excavation is not a licensed profession in New York State; therefore, the current training requirement is critical and must be extended indefinitely.

Since the adoption of this training requirement, positive trends have been realized related to reported gas utility damages across the State, illustrating that the training requirement is a highly effective component to New York’s damage prevention efforts and should be made permanent. While the demand for new and improved infrastructure projects continues to grow, it is critical that new and untrained excavators are trained on safe digging practices.

Dig Safely New York Executive Director Kevin Hopper stated “We applaud Governor Hochul for signing this important bill. Additionally, Senator Hinchey and Assemblymember Paulin were instrumental as bill sponsors, recognizing early on the importance of educating excavators on safe digging best practices and securing the bill’s passage in the New York State Legislature.

“The safety of our families and communities is jeopardized each day an excavator goes uneducated. Training and education around safe digging is needed now more than ever as the Governor works towards statewide broadband access for all, addresses the State’s aging infrastructure, including repairs to roads, bridges, sewers and water resources, and invests in large scale renewable energy projects. We are eager to support these nation-leading statewide initiatives through our Certified Excavator Program (CEP), ensuring that families and businesses are safe and protected. 

Dig Safely New York’s Certified Excavator Program

The Dig Safely New York, Inc. Certified Excavator Program in Safe Digging Best Practices has set a new standard for training New York State professional excavators in the proper procedures of excavation.

When a person has successfully completed the Dig Safely New York Certified Excavator Program (CEP) in Safe Digging Best Practices, they are certified by the one-call center for five (5) years, demonstrating a fundamental understanding of the Safe Digging Best Practices that should be used for safe excavation in accordance with the Common Ground Alliance Best Practices and New York State Code Rule 753. Certifications are good for five (5)-years as long as the individual successfully attends one (1) free renewal class each year between the year certified and the expiration year. Free renewal classes include any individual/company training requested, any free Excavator Breakfast event, or any of the nine (9) annual Excavator Safety Seminars, hosted each March.

The program is an interactive course that may be taken in-person or online. This certification combines various learning styles, including audio, visual, and hands-on exercises that allow participants to apply their knowledge into situations and obstacles that could be encountered in the field. Dig Safely New York, Inc.’s Certified Excavator Program Resources:

For more information on Dig Safely New York, Inc.’s Certified excavator program, please click here.

To schedule a private in-person Certified Excavator Class, please click here.

To complete the online Certified Excavator course, please click here.

Best,

Devin R. Negrete

Multimedia/PR Coordinator—Dig Safely New York, Inc.

About Dig Safely New York, Inc.

Dig Safely New York, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that protects homeowners, do-it-yourselfers, communities, and professionals, by working as the liaison between community members and underground utility operators. Celebrating its 50 year anniversary, Dig Safely New York has remained committed to its mission – To prevent damages to underground facilities and protect the public through education and quality communication with excavators, underground facility operators, and designers in an efficient, courteous, and cost-effective manner, while complying with governing regulations.


Dig Safely New York is the only one-call center that serves all of New York State, except for New York City and Long Island, which is served by NY811.