Skip to content

White Lining

When it comes to excavation projects, effectively communicating the exact location of the dig site is crucial for avoiding damage and ensuring safety. While providing the address is important, it’s equally essential to include specific descriptions within the site address, such as directions, distances, and references to accurately pinpoint the excavation area. This is where white lining plays a significant role.

What is white lining?

White lining is the practice of outlining the proposed area of excavation with either white paint or white flags prior to the arrival of the locator(s). It saves the facility locators time on-site and helps ensure that the entire area of excavation is located properly. Alabama 811 strongly encourages the process whenever possible. 

How to white line

FULL LINE

FOUR CORNER

DASH LINE

RADIUS or ARC

Benefits of White lining

Decrease avoidable damages

White lining has been proven to decrease avoidable damages in all utilities, resulting in substantial cost savings. 

Increases productivity

By marking the excavation boundaries with white paint or flags, white lining enhances productivity, reduces wasted time and effort during the call-before-you-dig process, and improves worksite safety by increasing accuracy and allowing locators to focus on the designated work area.

Reduces wait times

White lining also guides locators to spend time locating underground utilities accurately. By clearly indicating the excavation area, less time is wasted on non-essential areas, enabling locators to focus on protecting the facilities that need attention during excavation. This ultimately enhances worksite safety and minimizes the risk of accidents.

Increased worksite satisfaction

In addition to these advantages, white lining offers several other benefits. It ensures worksites are located with greater accuracy, allowing work to commence on time with fewer delays. This, in turn, reduces overall payroll costs by eliminating the need for additional manpower due to inefficiencies. By eliminating guesswork or misinterpretation, white lining increases customer satisfaction and avoids misunderstandings.

A Contractor’s Perspective

“White paint can be an excellent communication tool between the excavator and utility locator. Both parties can benefit. From the excavator’s perspective, it can clearly communicate the exact areas needed and eliminate a large percentage of confusion an call-backs. From a locator’s perspective, white paint clearly communicates the needed area, and helps provide a potentially more accurate locate, as well as a potentially timelier locate, by eliminating excess areas not necessarily needed.”

McKay Lyvers, Damage Prevention Education Manager-Alabama 811

Using White Flags for Excavation Marking

Sometimes white flags are chosen to be used along with, or instead of white paint for excavation marking. The choice is often driven by practical considerations. White flags allow for easy repositioning and adjustments to the designated area. This proves beneficial in situations where project plans may change or evolve.

Additionally, white flags may be advantageous in scenarios where diverse terrains or varying lighting conditions may compromise the visibility of painted markings. Overall, the use of white flags emerges as a flexible, adaptable, and visible solution for effective excavation pre-marking and white lining.

White lining is a simple yet powerful practice that significantly improves excavation projects

By taking the time to mark the excavation area with white paint or flags, excavators enhance worksite safety, increase productivity, reduce damages, and streamline the one-call process. Embracing white lining as a best practice in excavation projects will not only protect underground utilities but also save time, money, and resources while ensuring worksite satisfaction.