New Jersey Utilities Association Celebrates National Safe Digging Month

Survey reveals more than 40 percent of homeowners who plan to dig this year will put themselves and others at risk by not calling 811 before starting

Trenton, N.J. – In observance of National Safe Digging Month in April, the New Jersey Utilities Association (NJUA) today announced results from a recent national survey conducted on behalf of Common Ground Alliance (CGA). The results revealed that 42 percent of homeowners who plan to dig this year for projects like landscaping, installing a fence or mailbox, or building a deck, pond or patio and other DIY projects, will put themselves and their communities at risk by not calling 811 a few days beforehand to learn the approximate location of underground utilities. 

Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities can result in serious injuries, service disruptions and costly repairs when gas, electric, communications, water and sewer lines are damaged.

The national public opinion survey of homeowners conducted in March by CGA, the national association dedicated to protecting underground utility lines, people who dig near them, and their communities, also revealed that nearly half of American homeowners who plan to dig this year will complete landscaping projects that require a call to 811 at least a few days prior to digging. The most popular planned projects cited among surveyed homeowners who plan to dig include:

  • Planting a tree or shrub (47 percent)
  • Building a patio or deck (24 percent)
  • Building a fence (21 percent)
  • Installing a mailbox (8 percent)

“Tens of millions of Americans plan to do DIY digging projects this year, but according to this survey, 42 percent of them admit that they will not call 811 beforehand, which puts homeowners and their communities at risk,” said Jim Fakult, chairman of NJUA’s Board of Directors and president of JCP&L. “Calling 811 a few days before any planned home improvement projects that require digging – including common landscaping projects like planting trees and shrubs – is critical to preventing incidents like service outages and serious injuries.”

CGA’s 1,700 members, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and most governors have proclaimed April as National Safe Digging Month to bring extra attention to the issue of underground utility line safety and reduce the risk of unnecessary infrastructure damage. 

Just last week, Governor Phil Murphy issued a proclamation declaring the month of April as “Underground Facilities Damage Prevention Month,” highlighting the importance of the New Jersey Underground Facility Protection Act. This proclamation reminds individuals to practice safe digging throughout the year, not just in April.

As part of National Safe Digging Month, NJUA encourages homeowners to take the following steps when planning a digging project this spring:

  • 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 the approximate location of lines to be marked.
  • Confirm that all lines have been marked.
  • Consider moving the location of your project if it is near utility line markings.
  • If a contractor has been hired, confirm that the contractor has called 811. Don’t allow work to begin if the lines aren’t marked.
  • Visit www.call811.com for complete info.

Everyone who calls 811 a few days before digging is connected to a local one call notification center that will take the caller’s information and communicate it to local utility companies. Professional locators will then visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of underground utility lines with spray paint, flags or both. Once a site has been accurately marked, it is safe to begin digging around the marked areas.

About NJUA
The New Jersey Utilities Association is the statewide trade association for investor-owned utilities that provide essential water, wastewater, electric, natural gas and telecommunications services to New Jersey residents and businesses 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. NJUA has provided a forum for the exchange of ideas and a unified voice in the public policy arena for its members since 1915. NJUA’s 14 member utility companies are dedicated to the delivery of essential services to more than seven million residential customer accounts and nearly one million non-residential customer accounts across the Garden State.  For more information on NJUA, visit
www.njua.com.

About CGA
CGA is a member-driven association of nearly 1,700 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 North American 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 http://www.commongroundalliance.com.

About the study

SSRS conducted a national omnibus phone study between March 5-10, 2019, on behalf of CGA. A total of 648 American homeowners ages 18+ were asked for their opinions on home and property improvement project topics.The survey had a margin of error of +/- 3.85% at the 95 percent confidence level.

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