COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
August 11 is National 811 Day and Missouri811 hopes that the date will remind residents to call before you dig.
Ameren Missouri, reports that 2022 was a record-breaking year for digging safety.
According to a press release sent by Ameren Communications, there have been a total of 1.5 million requests to mark utilities on Missouri and Illinois properties in 2022.
811 is the 'national call-before-you dig' phone number that anyone about to start digging into the ground.
According to 811, it is important to have the utilities marked before digging even if the project is a small one. This is because utility lines can be buried just inches under the surface and can be anywhere.
"If I took this shovel, shoved it into the ground and broke the gas line or the electric line, that could cause a serious incident which could kill somebody," said the executive director of Missouri One Call System, Randy Norden. "Likewise, if you break an underground facility without calling in, you're liable for the repair of that facility by law."
Norden says that a person found at extreme fault may be fined by the Attorney General for up to $10,000 per day per incident for the dereliction of following the Dig Rite laws.
"We are excited to see the increase in Missouri 811 tickets, but it's important to continue bringing awareness to digging safety so that our customers can take on their outdoor projects without putting themselves in danger," said the director of gas operations for Ameren Missouri, Pam Harrison, in a press release. "Not only is calling 811 free and easy, but it's also the law."
To stay safe when digging, you should wait until a professional locator marks natural gas, electric, water, sewer, telephone, and cable lines. According to the CDC, you must report the proper authorities immediately if you hit a line to keep yourself and those around you safe.
"Unfortunately we still have nationally anywhere up to 20% of people who are excavating and they don't call 811 or utilize this free service and then damage those facilities and create either an interruption or injury, as well as receive a fine or bill for that," said Ameren Missouri's damage prevention public awareness specialist, Ramona Schatzer.
The National Safety Council reported that there were 49 preventable fatal utility work injuries in the years 2020 and 2021. The NSC also reports that there were 20,000 medically consulted and utility work injuries that were preventable in the United States in 2021.