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Before You Dig

Safe digging is everyone’s responsibility, but excavators have more responsibilities under the law and higher risk if the proper processes aren’t followed. Submitting a ticket is the first step but it’s not the only step, and sometimes it takes more than just the one call.

Steps to Safe Digging

Gather all the information you need for your locate ticket. White lining your proposed dig site with white paint, flags if/when possible.

Submit an online ticket available on the website HERE, or by dialing 811.

Provide a 2 – 10 full working day notice, not counting the day of notification, prior to the proposed start of excavation.

You will need to wait to start your work until the proposed start date of excavation to allow all affected facility owners the required time to mark their facilities. The more notice you give the more likely the facilities will all be able to respond prior to your excavation start date.

Follow each member operator’s progress throughout the required time frame by confirming their ticket responses. Check for Positive Response.

Once you’ve received responses from all members, compare the ticket response codes to the marks you see at the dig site. If they don’t match, contact 811 to have a second notice sent to that member.

The marks are approximate, and the tolerance zone is 18 inches either side of the utility marks. You are required to protect the locate marks throughout the project and request a refresh marks ticket if the marks become faded or destroyed.


If your excavation will continue beyond the 20 working day “life” of the locate request, you will need to update your request at least 2 working days, not counting the day of notification, prior to the expiration of the locate request. This will ensure you maintain an active and valid locate request for your project.


The proposed areas of excavations can be marked with white paint in order to show the location or boundaries of the proposed excavation. This helps with the efficiency of the locate process.

What do the colors mean?


The marking guide from the American Public Works Association provides for universal use and understanding of the temporary marking of underground facilities.


Proposed Excavation




Gas – Oil – Steam




Potable Water


Sewer & Drain Lines


Reclaimed Water


Temporary Survey

APWA color-code cards with tolerance zone and a link to this Spanish resources page on the back.

Request FREE APWA Color-Code Cards here

APWA color-code cards with tolerance zone and positive response info on back.

If you need more than 50, please specify.
Also, if you plan on picking up items, let us know the approximate date.

What is the Tolerance Zone?


18 inches PLUS the diameter of the utility

Use of color-coded surface marks (paint, chalk, flags etc) is to indicate the location and route of buried facilities. All marks should indicate the name, initials or logo of the company that owns or operates the lines to help determine the proper facility owner if needed. If the width of the facility is greater than 2” (5mm) then it is good to indicate the width. If the surface above the buried facilities is to be removed, such as asphalt removal, then supplemental offset marks may be used. Offset markings should be on a uniform alignment and must clearly indicate the actual facility specific distance.


811 Tips

The damage prevention industry has many moving parts. Each stakeholder plays an important role in making the 811 process work effectively. If everyone involved works to make their area of responsibility more efficient, the entire 811 system will be able to function like a well-oiled machine.

The following videos and materials provide important tips when using 811.

For Excavators

For Facility Owners

For Ag Community

Toolkit & Assets

Every year, the industry celebrates National Safe Digging Month (NSDM) in April. During the month, campaigns and activities focus on promoting safe digging to the general public and professionals nationwide. Here are some images and other tools that you may use to help.


Feel free to use or share these on your social media, website, & more.

“Don’t Risk it”


“Avoid damages to underground utilities”


“Do you know what the colors mean?”


“Don’t risk it” 

15-seconds (non-animated)