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NJ Board of Public Utilities recognizes April as National Safe Digging Month

NEW JERSEY — April is National Safe Digging Month, and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) is reminding everyone to call 811, the New Jersey One Call Center, before undergoing any home or commercial digging projects.

The NJBPU has direct oversight of the One Call Center, which operates 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

“Safety is our highest priority. New Jersey continues to be a national leader by having one of the most effective underground damage prevention programs,” said NJBPU President Christine Guhl-Sadovy. “Whether you are a homeowner doing a landscaping project or a contractor performing large excavation work, we implore you to call 811 – the New Jersey Once Call Before You Dig hotline – prior to digging to keep you, your family, and your community safe while protecting underground infrastructure.”

Underground Damage Prevention Month is part of National Safe Digging Month, a national initiative recognized by the U.S. Department of Transportation every April. It is intended to increase awareness of underground utility line safety precautions and reduce the risk of infrastructure damage. The NJBPU is conducting a public education campaign throughout the month to provide safety tips to New Jersey residents.

Excavations are the leading cause of damage to underground infrastructure. A recent national survey conducted by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) found 40 percent of homeowners who plan to dig this year will put themselves and others at risk by not calling 811 before starting.

In the CGA’s survey, homeowners most often received citations for failing to notify officials before starting the following digging projects: 1) planting a tree or shrub; 2) building a patio or deck; 3) building a fence; and 4) installing a mailbox.

The law requires anyone who plans to dig to provide at least three business days’ notice before excavation by calling 811.  Calling 811 is free and essential to avoid serious injuries, service disruptions, and costly repairs to critical utility services. The Center receives more than 700,000 calls each year, resulting in over three million “mark outs,” in which the location of an underground facility is marked by a flag or other symbol.

Homeowners are encouraged to take the following steps whenever you are planning a digging project: 1) Plan ahead by calling 811 regardless of the depth or your familiarity with the property; 2) Consider moving the location of your project if it is near utility line markings; 3) Confirm that all lines have been marked; 4) If a contractor has been hired, confirm that the contractor has called 811. Don’t allow work to begin if the lines aren’t marked.

President Guhl-Sadovy encourages everyone to remain on the lookout for safety messages throughout the month to draw attention to maintaining safe digging protocols. The NJBPU is also working in partnership with the New Jersey CGA on a campaign to heighten public awareness on the importance of damage prevention and to promote the use of the One-Call Damage Prevention System.

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Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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