MN State Statue 216D defines “damage” as any impact to an underground facility. MN law requires that if damage occurs to an underground facility or its protective coating, the excavator shall promptly notify the affected facility operator. Only the facility operator is qualified to determine if damage requiring repair has in fact occurred.
Excavators are encouraged to follow these steps after contacting a utility line1:
- Notify 911 immediately if the damage results in the escape of any flammable, toxic, or corrosive gas/liquid or if the damage results in a situation that endangers life, health, or property.
- Minimize the hazard until emergency responders arrive and complete their assessment of the situation. That may require the excavator to secure the scene or evacuate people from the hazard area.
- Notify the underground facility operator as soon as practical. Many facility operators list phone numbers on their permanent utility markers. Contact telephone numbers are also listed on your Gopher State One Call (GSOC) ticket.
- Take pictures of the site if safe to do, so that there is documentation for future reference.
The excavator must determine whether the damage has resulted in any risk to the public and take necessary action until representative(s) from the underground facility operator take control of the situation. The law requires that repairs may only be performed by qualified personnel authorized by the facility operator. Never backfill or bury a damaged underground line.
MN State Statute 216D defines an “emergency” as “a condition that poses a clear and immediate danger to life, health, or significant loss of property.” Please note that work-scheduling problems or customer demands are not considered emergencies and do not warrant the filing of an emergency locate ticket. GSOC reminds you to call 911 whenever there is a release of flammable, toxic, or corrosive gas or liquid, or if a dangerous situation has been created.
Examples of emergencies that justify the filing of an emergency ticket include:
- An unforeseen excavation necessary to prevent a condition that poses clear and immediate danger to life or health.
- An excavation required to repair a service outage.
- An excavation required to prevent significant and immediate property damage.
- The repair of an existing unstable condition, which may result in an emergency. Emergency locates should be given top priority by utilities. An excavator must maintain a continuously staffed telephone number throughout the emergency.
GSOC would like to remind excavators that upon receiving an immediate emergency notice, the facility operator must attempt to contact the excavator within one hour by telephone and is required to visit the job site, locate, and mark within three hours of receiving the notice, unless the circumstance dictates otherwise.
GSOC also reminds excavators that they have the flexibility to request a “scheduled emergency” where conditions are such that the emergency work start date/time will be more than three hours, allowing affected facility operators additional time to locate their respective facilities.
Damaging a utility line can be an unfortunate situation resulting in fires, explosions, and loss of life. Reduce your chances of causing buried infrastructure damages by always contacting GSOC 48 hours in advance of routine excavations, excluding weekends and holidays, before you break ground “this time and every time”!
Source1: GSOC Handbook