With April marking National Safe Digging Month and the start of many outdoor projects, NIPSCO urges residents and businesses to help protect the public from serious risk or injury by calling 811 two business days before starting any digging project to have underground utility lines marked.

In addition to the risk of serious injury, not calling 811 before beginning a digging project could also result in fines up to $10,000 or more and the cost to repair damages.  It’s the law.

The highest safety risk to underground natural gas utilities across the county, and in Indiana, continues to be damage caused by those who dig into a line without calling first for the underground lines to be marked.

In 2013, there were approximately 400 cases of system damage caused when no markings were requested across NIPSCO’s service area.  Nearly 60 percent of those were the result of contractors, while the remaining damages were caused by residents.  The most common digging projects where damage occurred involved fences, landscaping and water and sewer projects. Planting shrubs and trees and installing decks and pools are also common digging projects.

“One simple toll-free call to 811 before digging can mean the difference between saving a life and causing serious injury or worse,” said Doug Dale, executive director overseeing damage prevention and pipeline safety. “That’s why it’s important to have your underground utility lines marked regardless of the size of the project or who is doing the digging work.”

Once a call is made, a professional utility line locator will visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of underground utility lines with paint or flags. After the site has been accurately marked, it is safe to begin digging carefully around the marked areas.  It is important to not disturb or move the markings or flags prior to digging.

Visit NIPSCO.com/811 or Indiana811.org for more information about 811 and the call-before-you-dig process.