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Stay Safe When Digging Around Utility Lines

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Do you know how to identify underground utilities in your area? There’s no room for error or guessing. One wrong move could have catastrophic results.


Utility color codes are one of the most common methods used to mark existing underground utilities in construction areas. Know what the different colors mean, so you know exactly what you’re dealing with, and protect yourself, your coworkers, and your bottom line.



Sample of Utility Line Color Codes



Color codes can change from region to region. Don’t assume, always check with your local utility companies to validate the color code or the identification method meaning. (Below is only intended as an example.)


White = Proposed Excavation


Pink = Temporary Survey Markings


Red = Electric Power Lines, Cables, Conduit and Lighting Cables


Yellow = Gas, Oil, Steam, Petroleum or Gaseous Materials


Orange = Communication, Alarm or Signal Lines, Cables or Conduit


Blue = Potable Water


Purple = Reclaimed Water, Irrigation and Slurry Lines


Green = Sewers and Drain Lines


You need to ensure safety above ground and underground. Here are some tips to help you stay safe when digging or trenching:



 Before You Begin 



Call 811 before you dig. It’s not only the law; it saves lives.


Have your local utility companies mark lines and other hazards in the entire work zone.


Look for clues that underground utility lines exist (i.e., valves, covers, etc.).


Know the capabilities of the equipment you are using.


Perform a walk around to ensure your equipment is ready and safe for use.


Plan out your tasks and have an emergency plan in case a utility line is damaged.


Know the job – use a trench shield that is large enough for the job but light enough to be handled by the equipment you are using.


 

Safety First



Use trench shields during trenching operations.


Install ALL the spreaders and NEVER remove spreaders from a shield.


Do not store materials near the sides of a trench.


Be sure to allow quick and easy access in and out of the trench.


Always wear appropriate PPE.


Know the identification method used for underground utilities.


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