Michigan PSC Gets New Safety Digging Enforcement Authority
A state law that took effect April 1 conferred that authority and also established a new complaint process. April is "Dig Safely Month," when state authorities remind excavators, contractors, and homeowners to call 811 before digging.
The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) announced a new complaint process April 1 under the updated MISS DIG Underground Facility Damage and Safety Act, which took effect that day. It gives the agency new enforcement authority. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder joined state executives around the country in declaring April "Dig Safely Month."
"Excavation damage is the leading cause of serious utility incidents that result in property damage, personal injuries, and fatalities," said PSC Chairman John D. Quackenbush. "This update to Michigan's 40-year-old law now formally puts in place the best safe digging practices to prevent damage to vital infrastructure and to prevent potential injuries or death. A simple call to 811 at least 72 hours before digging is all it takes to help keep utility service safe and reliable for all of us."
The law requires facility owners to participate in a "positive response" program that puts in place a formal system tracking requests for marking facilities. Excavators must expose all marked utilities in an 8-foot caution zone by hand, and power equipment can be used in the caution zone after all marked facilities are exposed. Excavators also must provide support or bracing of utilities or excavation walls in an excavation or blasting area that are reasonably necessary for protecting the utilities.
The new enforcement authority allows for a fine of up to $5,000, and municipalities will be liable for damage to underground facilities, under certain conditions, and will be subject to fines and training for the first time.
The New York State Public Service Commission is another agency participating in the nationwide effort to recognize April as Dig Safely Month. "It is important to raise awareness of the state's One-Call Notification Systems and the critical role it plays in identifying the location of underground infrastructure facilities," said Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman. "Damage to utility facilities during excavation can result in loss of utility service, personal injury, and property damage. I urge all excavators to do their part in protecting our vital infrastructure by simply dialing 811 before digging."
For more information about Dig Safely New York, go to www.digsafelynewyork.com or call 315-437-7394.