Why You Should Always Call 811 Before You Dig - A Reminder On 811 Day

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Why You Should Always Call 811 Before You Dig - A Reminder On National 811 Day

Damage to underground utility lines is a major problem in the United States. Incidents caused by unsafe digging practices can compromise community safety and disconnect people from critical services. This is why the 811 service remains one of the most important national services available to contractors and homeowners. 

In this article, we will be discussing what 811 day is and why it is essential to always call 811 before you dig!

What is 811? 

811 is the national call-before-you-dig phone number. Anyone who plans to dig should call 811 or go to their state 811 center’s website before digging to request that the approximate location of buried utilities be marked with paint or flags so that you don’t unintentionally dig into an underground utility line.


811 Day is an annual initiative led by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to ensure that the practice of safe digging is echoed in communities by calling 8-1-1, a nationwide toll-free number, before any excavation project. 


811 is an essential service for damage prevention and seeks to eliminate damages caused by digging, which remains the leading cause of pipeline incidents. The 811 service was enacted due to a disaster that occurred in the late ’60s, where there was a major accident on the west coast that caused major gas leakages, fires, and power outages due to improper digging. In response to this, the 811 law was passed.


The 811 law required that all companies (including utilities/government agencies) or individuals who undertake an excavation project call 811 prior to start of the project. It also required lines and markings to be drawn around areas to indicate the presence of pipelines, cables, fiber underneath the surface. Each state has their own unique processes and laws for digging.

When an 811 call is received, the call center is required to create a Locate Request Ticket referred to as One Call ticket. Additionally, it mandated that all the utility companies respond to 811 tickets (referred to as one-call tickets) raised by the excavators with the call centers within a certain timeframe. These call centers have the important responsibility of managing, tracking, and closing these tickets with the goal of minimizing the occurrence of accidents. 

Why It Is Important To Dig Safely 


Every six minutes an underground utility line is damaged or destroyed because an excavator did not properly mark the warning lines before digging. The depth and placement of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons including erosion, previous digging projects, and uneven surfaces, which makes planning and preparation very important. 

Making assumptions about where the utility lines are under your property can be extremely dangerous. Even striking a single line can result in injury, significant repair costs, fines, and inconvenient outages for you and your neighbors. 


The odds for avoiding disaster during these dig-ins improve by nearly 99% if lines are properly marked in advance. If protocols are not followed and 811 is not consulted, there can be significant damages to not just the immediate area, but the entire community. When excavators follow the federal guidelines and ensure they are digging properly, damages and accidents can be avoided. This is what makes 811 so important - it provides a very useful service to mitigate accidents and damages!

One of the major organizations promoting safe digging and Damage Prevention is the Common Ground Alliance (CGA). It is a member driven alliance committed to saving lives and preventing damage to North American underground infrastructure by promoting effective damage prevention practices. Membership in the CGA is open to all stakeholders with a genuine interest in reducing damages to the underground infrastructure. CGA’s top-tier members represent some of the largest companies and organizations in North America.

How To Dig Safely 


Excavators must take a proactive approach to safety by utilizing the 811 One-Call System and adhering to the following steps of a safe excavation:

  • Always call before you dig.

Federal and state laws require you to place a locate request prior to digging or excavating. It is also good practice to ensure you know about the area you are going to dig.

  • Wait the required time.

Once you call, you will need to wait in order for the call center to determine the details of your site and project. Do not begin excavating prior to your stated start date and time.

  • Confirm Utility Response

After the call center has notified member utilities of the pending excavation, you are responsible for making sure each utility operator has responded prior to digging.

  • Respect the Marks

Familiarize yourself with the markings and the locations of buried facilities at the site prior to excavation.

  • Dig With Care!

Dig test holes to verify location, type, size, direction-of-run, and depth of the marked facility. Remember - you can never be too careful in these situations!

As you can tell, the call centers that handle the one-call ticketing processes play a crucial role in damage prevention.  Also the improvements in efficiency with which the utilities respond to these tickets will result in significantly reduced damages and accidents.

BOSS Solutions created an industry-leading Cloud based One-Call Ticketing  solution with this objective in mind. BOSS811 is a cloud based One Call Ticket Management Solution for Municipalities, Utilities and Locator Companies managing excavation requests.

It comes with an award winning UI and easy navigation. With Facility map integration, it provides a visual component for effective management and tracking of dig requests. The  powerful ticket screening capability makes it easy to close tickets automatically or alert appropriate locators.

BOSS Solutions is a proud partner in damage prevention.


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About the Author:

Kristin Reed is a Senior Support Engineer with BOSS Solutions. Kristin has been part of the Damage Prevention Industry for 11 years. She is committed to helping utilities and locators protect their facilities and keeping excavators safe at the dig site.

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Did you know? Hitting an underground utility line can cause severe damage and result in fines for non compliance


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BOSS Solutions offers an easy and affordable damage prevention solution BOSS811 that helps you stay compliant and avoid hefty fines. Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County adapted  BOSS811 , a Cloud based One Call Ticket Management Solution for the Damage Prevention Industry to improve efficiency and stay compliant.

The Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County (MAWC) is the largest public water provider in the State of Pennsylvania, with 2400 miles of water lines, 500 miles of wastewater lines, 3 Water Treatment Plants and 10 Wastewater Treatment Plants. The legacy 811 Ticket Management System used by MAWC could only be installed on the locator laptops, had no routing rules or automation and therefore provided a very limited role in their critical operations. MAWC wanted a ticket management solution that would improve efficiency and ensure compliance with the regulations of the Pennsylvania Utility Commission who were imposing fines on utility owners for noncompliance. MAWC did a thorough search and selected BOSS811 as their replacement Ticket Management Solution. The BOSS811 implementation was very successful with over 9000 tickets closed in the first 6 months of operation. BOSS811 dramatically improved and simplified workflows through automation and event logs, eliminated bottlenecks and allowed for retraining. BOSS was able to import data and attachments from the legacy 811 system making it part of the BOSS811 searchable repository that is instantly viewable by management.

“BOSS811 has set the bar that other software is compared to." Anthony Pologruto - GIS Analyst, Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, PA

View the BOSS811 webinar with Anthony and learn how MAWC improved efficiency and avoided fines


Major BOSS811 Features & Capabilities used by MAWC:

 Ability to load map services directly from the GIS Server which eliminates the need for paper maps and the “dig box” can be accurately located on the screen  Powerful Routing Engine with the ability to assign tickets based on ticket info or type, tag tickets, send desktop notifications, and assign based on dates and times  The ability to Auto Close tickets  Customized dashboard for each user with pre-defined or custom Widgets 

 Charting and reporting provide management with the capability to monitor workloads and performance  Ticket management with both list and map views provides for easy assignment, sorting and response  Advanced search with a very granular capability and the ability to export to CSV spreadsheets  The ability to add attachments to tickets including photos and videos that can be geo-tagged to show where they were taken  Ease of configuration due to intuitive design of Settings screen  Email notifications based on routing rules  The ability to easily create users and set roles and permissions  Mobile App for both iOS and Android with offline support in areas with no cell signal.  Sketching tools that provide the ability to add notation and comments to the uploaded photos.

Visit www.boss-solutions.com to learn more about BOSS811

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How the City of San Jose saved a million and more!

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The City of San Jose is an economic, cultural, and political center of Silicon Valley and the largest city in Northern California. With an estimated 2017 population of 1,035,317, it is the third most populous city in California and the tenth most populous in United States.

The City of San Jose joined the One Call ticket management center, USA North in 1989 when the underground service alert law became mandatory. The City needed to replace an antiquated 21 year old computer based One Call ticket Management system for Damage Prevention with a modern solution that could better manage their ever increasing demand of service from underground marker and locate crews while providing customized management information to track time, funding sources and ensure compliance with regulations.  

After comparing several available solutions in the market and doing their due diligence, the City chose BOSS811 for its one call ticket management. BOSS811 helped position the City to be more efficient and in compliance with regulations. The powerful workflow capabilities of BOSS811 and features like auto close resulted in reduced labor costs, increased compliance, a better user experience, and improved morale. The customized reporting reduced staff hours and the implementation of GEO Location mapping instead of printed map books resulted in significant cost savings.

Brent Erkel - Construction Manager with the City of San Jose is extremely pleased with the move to BOSS811. In his words,“BOSS811 it's been an absolute incredible fit and resulted in significant cost and time savings. Everybody that's dealt with BOSS has just been floored with how easy BOSS has been to deal with and what good customer service they have so much so BOSS has raised the bar for our other vendors"

View Brent's webinar on Driving Compliance with One Call Ticket Management to learn how they saved millions by implementing BOSS811.

The City of San Jose is required to provide locate and marking services for many underground facilities including traffic signals, street lighting, communications, recycled water lines, portable water lines, irrigation, pressurized storm, and sanitary sewers. In 2017 the City processed over 57,000 tickets and projected demand continued to show significant increases. The City was looking to replace its antiquated system with a modern and user friendly solution and BOSS811 exceeded its expectations with the its modern, easy to navigate UI and powerful features.

Following the implementation of BOSS811 the City saved over a Million dollars and benefited significantly due to:

 The process reductions and efficiency Improvements in the workflow for new/remark tickets resulted in a saving of 4 minutes per ticket

 The ability to Auto Close no-remark/extension tickets resulted in a saving of 1.25 minutes per ticket

 The ability to standardize on documentation through drop-down menus and toggle boxes combined with the ability to create custom screens to track funding sources, and track time saved significant amount of staff hours

 Implementation of GEO Location mapping instead of using printed systems map books saved significant dollars.

 Other benefits include data reliability, the ability to balance and redistribute the work of locate staff, improved morale and increased compliance with regulations.

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