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April is National Safe Digging Awareness Month: Call 811 to "Know What's Below"

Jason Reese


  • Shockingly, an underground utility line is damaged once every six minutes nationwide because someone decided to dig without checking to see if the area was safe of underground utility lines.
  • Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities can result in damage to gas, electric, communications, water and sewer lines, which can lead to service disruptions, serious injuries and costly repairs.
  • If you are a homeowner, installing any type of project that requires digging, you are required by law to make a call to 811 in the state of Indiana. Hitting a line can knock out service to your home and neighborhood or result in fines, damage and serious injury.
  • Be sure to check with your contractor or landscaper to make sure that the call to 811 will be made before digging begins – whether it means you making the call, or your contractor doing so.
  • Make the call to 811 anytime you’re putting a shovel in the ground to keep yourself and your community safe. We also encourage you to share this post with others on your social media pages.

April is National Safe Digging Month, Call 811 Before You Dig

Every year, April is marked as National Safe Digging Month. Awareness continues to be needed since every six minutes in the U.S. someone is digging before they know if the spot is safe. They may be creating damage to crucial power, water, gas, phone, and other utility lines. Not only is damage caused to the lines, but this is a quick way to be injured and be knocked by expensive repair costs and a potential fine since Indiana’s “Call Before You Dig” law requires everyone who digs to contact Indiana 811 at least two full working days before starting their outdoor project. So, whether that warm weather project is planting a new garden, repairing a fence post, laying a new patio, or planting that new shade tree, the best step to protecting yourself and community against utility damage or fatal electrical injuries is by calling 811 so you “Know What’s Below” before you start digging.

The 811 Process for Homeowners

The Federal Communications Commission has designated 811 as the national toll-free number for all local “Call Before You Dig” phone centers throughout the United States. 811 in Indiana took effect May 1, 2007 and is reachable toll-free from anywhere in the state. Indiana’s “Call Before You Dig” phone center, formerly known as the Indiana Underground Plant Protection Service (IUPPS), can also be reached toll-free at 1-800-382-5544.

It’s pretty simple of a process. Just call 811 from anywhere in the state a few days prior to digging and your call will automatically be routed to Indiana’s local call center. From there, you will give the operator information about how to contact you, where you are planning to dig and what type of work you will be doing. Your quick conversation with the operator will last a few minutes. Once that information is collected by 811, local utility companies who have potential facilities in the area of your dig site will be notified about your intent to dig. Each affected utility company will send a locator to mark the approximate location of your underground utility lines. This typically occurs within 2-3 working days. Here are some easy steps from 811 to follow to make the process even more seamless. These steps can also be shared with others to keep our important safety message going.

5 Easy Steps to Making an 811 Call


Notify your local one-call center by calling 811 or a homeowner can make an online request, 2-3 days before planned work begins. The one-call center will transmit information to affected utility operators. The service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in Indiana.


Wait 2-3 days in Indiana for affected utility operators to respond to your request. On average, between 7-8 utility operators are notified for each request.


Confirm that all affected utility operators have responded to your request by comparing the marks to the list of utilities the one-call center notified.


Respect the marks. The marks provided by the affected utility operators are your guide for the duration of your project. If you are unable to maintain the marks during your project, or the project will continue past your request’s expiration date please call 811 to ask for a re-mark.


Dig carefully. If you can’t avoid digging near the marks, consider moving your project to another part of your yard. If you must dig near the marks or use machinery of any kind, please review the digging process for Indiana contractors.

Never let digging work begin without the call to 811. It’s not worth breaking the law or the hazard risk to yourself and others.

811 and Safe Digging Practices for Indiana Business Owners

In 2003, the Indiana General Assembly revised the “Call Before You Dig” law and made it a requirement that all owners and operators of underground facilities become a member of Indiana 811. Here are few tips from 811 for business owners.

  • Incorporate 811 information or the 811 logo into your existing promotional information.
  • Promote 811 in your office and on your equipment.
  • Contact your local 811 call center about receiving safe digging trainings for yourself and your employees at least once a year.
  • Speak to your customers about the 811 safe digging process and make sure they know to call even for digging projects they complete on their own.

Please continue to spread the word about how easy it is to make the call to 811 to keep our Indiana communities safe and connected to critical utility services.

If a Digging Incident Caused Your Injury, We Can Help

The personal injury attorneys at Wagner Reese can’t stress how important following these directions is before you break ground of any kind and check to make sure you aren’t going to injure yourself or others because of buried utility lines. If you have been injured in a digging accident, whether residential, or through an employer like a construction company, the attorneys at Wagner Reese can help you with any type of personal injury or work comp digging injury claim.

We put decades of experience to work for you, and we won’t collect any fees unless your case is settled or won. Connect with us by submitting our online form and our attorneys will review your information. If you wish to speak directly with us, please call (888) 204-8440.


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