Who Is An Excavator

An excavator is any person proposing or engaging in digging or demolition work. This includes property owners, tenants, farmers, and professional contractors. Excavators are responsible for ensuring that pipelines and other underground facilities are not damaged when digging.

Excavation damage is a leading cause of significant pipeline accidents, resulting in property damage, injuries, and fatalities. Severe excavation damage results in an immediate release, while less severe damage can weaken a pipe and contribute to a future pipeline failure.

Whether excavating with a shovel or a four-ton backhoe — damage prevention must be a top priority. Anyone who excavates or digs must contact their state’s One-Call system so that underground facilities can be located before excavation begins.

All states have damage prevention laws and may involve fines and penalties for noncompliance. Some states still allow exemption for certain excavators from One-Call requirements. Eliminating these exemptions is one of PHMSA’s top priorities.

Learn more about what excavators can do to promote pipeline safety by understanding the information on this website and using 811.

Excavator Best Practices

The leading cause of gas distribution system incidents has been external force damage during excavation work near pipelines. OPS invests considerable resources in the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) to promote damage prevention. CGA members include all underground facility damage prevention stakeholders and CGA has assumed stewardship of these OPS initiatives:

  • Best Practices - In 1999, the OPS sponsored the Common Ground Study to develop "Best Practices" for preventing damage to pipelines and other underground facilities.
  • A CGA committee ensures the Best Practices are updated to reflect new technology and practices.
  • Dig Safely - This educational campaign stresses damage prevention by encouraging excavators to participate in one-call programs. A CGA committee continues to develop educational materials for use in communities, work sites, and public forums.

Are You An American Locator?

One way or another, all excavators locate underground utilities. Check out our online damage prevention certification courses, including the specially-priced Excavator Damage Prevention package available here.

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Virginia Pipeline Awareness