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Contractors say 811 utility location system has significant flaws

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Codes and Standards

Contractors say 811 utility location system has significant flaws

More than half of firms in survey report damages, near misses because lines were unmarked or marked incorrectly.


By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | November 22, 2021
Excavator

Courtesy Pixabay

The nation’s 811 utility location system is significantly flawed, according to a new survey of construction firms that perform underground excavation work.

The survey report, released by the Associated General Contractors of America, found that more than half of the responding firms reported damages and near misses because lines were unmarked or marked incorrectly. “Most contractors say that calling 811 often leads to inaccurate line marking and that utility firms are often very slow in coming out to locate and mark their underground lines,” according to an AGC news release.

Seventy-eight percent of firms who found weaknesses said the biggest problem is the lack of accurate utility locating by utility owners and operators. And 56% of firms with concerns about the 811 system said slow utility owner and operator response times are a significant weakness.

Many firms reported being unfairly blamed for damages even after contacting 811. The survey found that nearly two-thirds of contractors received a claim from a utility owner and operator for damage to a line the construction firm was not responsible for damaging.

“We need to fix the 811 system to make sure utility firms are doing their part to accurately mark their lines,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC CEO. “Too few utility firms are being held accountable for doing their part when it comes to helping contractors avoid hitting underground lines.”
 

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