Excavator Responsibilities

Over the years, even very experienced workers tend to forget some of the basics they learned in the beginning of their careers.  This week’s blog is a refresher on excavator responsibilities.

Each excavator, including each subcontractor, is responsible for:

  • Requesting the one-call notification, it is not your customer’s responsibility.
  • Immediately reporting damage or exposure of any underground utility to South Dakota 811 and the operator of that facility. If a gas line has been hit or damaged, you must also call 911.
  • Knowing and following the 18” tolerance zones from the outside edge of facilities. Use only hand tools, air cutting, water cutting, or vacuum excavation within the tolerance zone until the underground lines have been exposed.
  • Retaining the locate ticket number until the project has been completed.
  • Requesting a line locate at least two business days, excluding weekends and holidays, before beginning work.
  • Providing accurate driving directions with distances and cardinal directions (North, South, East, West) when working in rural areas.
  • Providing TRSQ (Township, Range, Section and Quarter) and GPS coordinates when available.
  • Confirming the response of the notified utilities before proceeding with any excavation.
  • Notifying South Dakota 811 after determining that one or more utilities have not responded to a locate request and requesting a Verification ticket for only the specific companies that have not responded.
  • Looking for utility signage at your work site and obeying instructions on the signs.
  • Following safe digging practices and maintaining equipment condition to ensure safety standards.
  • And, excavators, please remember to remove all flags when the work is complete.

How many are you still practicing regularly?

Visit www.SD811.com for additional information.

Until next week, dig safely.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has named the week of August 13 National Safe + Sound Week.  Its purpose is to raise awareness and to encourage businesses to develop a systematic approach to finding and fixing hazards in the workplace.

Organizations of all sizes and in every industry are encouraged to participate this week to show their commitment to worker, customer and public safety.  South Dakota 811 recommends that as many of you as possible plan participating activities.

Activities don’t have to be elaborate.   They could be as simple as a series of emails talking about management’s commitment to a safe and healthy workplace.  HERE are some other Safe + Sound activities with limited time commitments.

If you do participate this week, you are encouraged to enter your information HERE to be recognized for your participation. Just click on the “Are You Participating” button.  There are certificates of participation available to download on the site.

Despite having a whole week dedicated to Safe + Sound activities, the program is more than a single week of activities, it is a philosophy that a safe and healthy workplace makes good business sense.  Here are some suggestions for implementing this philosophy throughout the year.

  1. Establish safety and health as a core value.
  2. Lead by example.
  3. Implement a reporting system.
  4. Provide training.
  5. Conduct inspections.
  6. Collect hazard control ideas.
  7. Implement hazard controls.
  8. Address emergencies.
  9. Seek input on workplace changes.
  10. Make improvements to the program.


Until next week, dig safely.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


There’s just something special about fresh fruits and vegetables.

That’s why Farmer’s Markets are so popular.   The Farmer’s Market coalition estimates there are over 8,000 such markets operating across the United States.   (New York City has over 100 markets)

In South Dakota, a big market is the Falls Park Farmer’s Market, located in Sioux Falls.  Open every Saturday through October from 8am to 1pm, the market is a place for fresh meat, vegetables, fruit, flowers, baked goods, plants and much  more.

These items are straight from South Dakota growers and ready for your table or kitchen.

Like any other such market in the nation, it’s a great place to meet the folks who produce your food.  They’re happy to tell you all about how it comes to market.

But, just like their New York or Los Angeles brother farmers, they do have one thing in common:  they use water, and lots of it.

As a general rule of thumb, tomato plants require 1 to 2 inches of water each week, but a more accurate measurement is 1 inch of water, or 1 gallon of water, every 5 days.   Multiply that out over thousands of acres.   That’s a LOT of water.

That’s why it’s so important to get in touch with South Dakota 811 before you dig.

Farmers have a tough enough time of it as it is, fighting the weather and fluctuating values on their goods.  Don’t add to it by making them worry about their water supply.

For instance, did you know that you may need a water rights permit from the state depending on what you’re using the water for?

It’s been said that, next to air, water is our most valuable resource in South Dakota.  Don’t waste it.  ALWAYS use South Dakota 811 before you dig.  Using 811 to get underground infrastructure located prior to excavation reduces the chances of hitting something you shouldn’t to less than one percent.

So – 811, dig carefully, and reward yourself with a treat from the Falls Park Farmer’s Market.  It’s a winning combination!

Until next week, safe digging!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Have you ever had that feeling that someone is looking over your shoulder?   That feeling that you’re being watched?

Don’t worry.   It’s just NASA.

The space agency took a view of our state recently to assess damage after fierce hailstorms pounded western and central South Dakota at the end of June.

NASA satellites are able to see the damage left by the hail storms.  It appears as a tan-looking scar that reaches over half of the state.  The hail storm was so vicious that in spots, the damage extends for six miles in width.

You may be wondering – I was – how NASA can see this damage.   According to NASA, satellites that “see” heat imaging focus in on the damaged areas because they actually show up hotter due to losing crops and other shade/cover vegetation from hail stones.

You can read the entire story here.

So what does this have to do with South Dakota 811?

It’s a stark reminder of how Mother Nature can obliterate your crops and fields in an instant.

She does quite well on her own when she has a temper tantrum.

You don’t need to provide her with any help by failing to contact 811 before you use a tiling plow, or drill, or excavate for any reason.

A ruptured gas line, a severed electrical line, damaged telecommunications or – even  worse in a state always looking for rain, a damaged water line – all of these things can have an impact on your livelihood and on our crops.

And just about all of it can be avoided by contacting South Dakota 811 first.  Having an underground utility locate completed prior to excavation reduces your risk of hitting something you shouldn’t to less than one percent.

We depend on you to get in contact with us.  Unlike NASA, we can’t look down from orbit and see if you’ve actually called in an 811 locate request.

At least, not yet….

Until next week, safe digging!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Remember the ice bucket challenge a while back?   People shot video of themselves getting doused with ice and ice water and then challenged someone else to do it.  Money raised went to the ALS charity. (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis research)

Now there’s a new challenge making the rounds – the lip-synch challenge.  Police officers are among those making videos of themselves lip-synching to a song.

South Dakota is not immune from this latest craze.  The Rapid City police force took it upon themselves to record one.  You can see it here, on the www.keloland.com website.

While it’s doubtful anyone is going to win a Grammy for this effort,  it shows a shared spirit that’s good to see.

Kind of like the good you’ll do when you use 811, and pass it along.

If every person who uses South Dakota 811 would tell just five people about this service – just think how many more people we could educate on the importance and use of the 811 call before you dig system.

It’s a free call.  It’s a free locate.   What could be easier?

You can even use it as a conversation starter:

YOU:               Have you ever thought about those little colored flags  in the ground?

FRIEND:         No, not really.  I wonder what they mean?

YOU:               Oh, I can tell you!  And also why they’re important!

FRIEND:         Wow!  I’ll certainly use 811 the next time I do any digging!

See how easy it is?   Like the Ice Bucket and the Lip Synch challenge, just pass it along!

Letting people know about South Dakota 811 is not only the neighborly thing to do – it’s the right thing to do.

It’s so easy to pass 811 along.

You won’t get doused with ice, and no one will make a video of you – but you’ll still know you are doing the right thing.

Until next week, safe digging!

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Just when you need a little break from the mid-summer doldrums – it’s time for the Sioux Falls celebration of JazzFest 2018!

This is the 27thyear for the big show, which runs this coming Friday—Saturday,  July 20—21.   The location is Yankton Trail Park in Sioux Falls.

The event is open to the public, and is free of charge to get in. Besides the free music, you can purchase items from food and beverage dealers and arts & craft dealers.

JazzFest is a fundraiser for Sioux Falls Jazz & Blues, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

You can learn more here.

Yes, it’s true – sometimes the best things in life are free.

Like great jazz music – and South Dakota 811!

Yes, your call to 811 to get underground lines and utilities located prior to a dig is always free with South Dakota 811.

So is the subsequent line marking service.

And with all the money you’ll save, you can get in free to JazzFest!

Speaking of saving money – not having to spend on repairs to damaged underground utilities is a big cost savings.

So take advantage of the freebies!   Go listen to some great jazz, and always get in contact with South Dakota 811 before you do any kind of excavating.

Until next week, safe digging!

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


We’ve had a couple of weeks to think about this disturbing news – anthrax confirmed in a herd of South Dakota cattle.

The animals in the herd were unvaccinated.   While there is no law requiring annual anthrax vaccination, it is recommended by veterinary authorities at least two to four weeks prior to the expected seasonal onset of the illness.  Immunity in livestock develops 7 to 10 days following vaccination.

The key point here is – they’ve got to be vaccinated to get protection.  And you can choose to vaccinate or not.

Not so with digging.  According to South Dakota law:

No excavator may begin any excavation without first notifying the one-call notification center of the proposed excavation. The excavator shall give notice by telephone or by other methods approved by the board pursuant to rules promulgated pursuant to chapter 1-26 to the one-call notification center at least forty-eight hours prior to the commencement of the excavation, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays of the state. 

Notifying South Dakota 811 to get underground facilities located before a dig is the cheapest insurance you will ever get for free.

A quick Google search found 50 doses of veterinary anthrax vaccine selling for $38.99 plus shipping. That’s a lot less than the cost of a single animal, much less the cost of losing an entire herd.  It’s insurance.

So:  one insurance is a choice, and will cost you some dollars out of pocket.  BUT – it  will cost you more dollars out of pocket if you gamble and lose.

The other insurance is a free call and a free service.  And if you don’t call, you could potentially be out more than some dollars from your pocket. If you strike a buried gas or electrical line, you could potentially lose your life.

At South Dakota 811, our goal is to make our state a safer place to live and work in.  By using 811 to get underground utilities located before a dig, you’re doing your part to help out your fellow South Dakotans.   A broken line doesn’t just affect the person who broke it.  Imagine a hospital without water, gas, or telecommunications.  The list of potential disruptions is unimaginable – and also almost completely preventable.

Getting an 811 locate reduces your chances of striking something you shouldn’t to less than 1% – and that’s a great return on your very minimal investment.

We’re open 24/7/365.  Just call 811 or drop by our website at sd811.com  for more information.

Until next time, safe digging!

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Have you ever been a tourist in your own state?  As the Fourth of July holiday approaches and we celebrate our national independence, remember that South Dakota is due some celebrating of her own!

At South Dakota 811, we’re proud of our heritage.  Here’s a few gems from the site TravelSouthDakota.com

Did you know:

South Dakota has more miles of shoreline than Florida?

South Dakota has the highest point in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains?

Tourism brings about $2 billion to the state every year?

Native American legends Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull hailed from South Dakota?

Authors L. Frank Baum (The Wizard of Oz) and Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House on the Prairie books) are from South Dakota?

South Dakota achieved statehood in 1889?

South Dakota’s state fossil is the Triceratops?

An expedition led by Lt. Col. George A. Custer discovered gold in the Black Hills in 1874?  (Given what happened to him two years later, perhaps Custer should have stuck to gold mining!)

The four figures on Mt. Rushmore were to have been sculpted to their waists, but the artist died before the work was finished?

Finally, did you know that putting in a locate request to South Dakota 811 reduces your chances of an errant hit on buried facilities to less than one percent?   Within 48 hours underground utilities are flagged/marked so you know what’s below.

We’re open 24/7/365.  Just call 811 or drop by our website at sdonecall.com  for more information.

By using 811 before you dig, you’re helping contribute to the safety and continued growth of what is arguably the greatest state in the union! (Ha, take THAT, Rhode Island!)

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday.

Until next time, safe digging!

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


At South Dakota 811, we view ourselves not only as a damage prevention organization, but also a public safety organization.

Trench safety is a natural fit with underground facility damage – since much of the work done on buried facilities requires a trench.

A trench without proper shoring or no shoring at all can collapse without warning.

Bone crushing weight and suffocation are the likely end for most trench accident victims.  Even if someone should still be alive when first responders arrive, the likelihood they will survive until firefighters can safely approach them to affect a rescue is slim.

According to OSHA, there were 12 trench injuries and 23 deaths in 2016.  The U.S. Department of Labor has made reducing excavation and trenching hazards a priority.  Their goal is to reduce the total from fiscal year 2017 by 10% by September 30, 2019. Trenches by their very nature are inherently unstable.  The deeper a trench goes, the more unstable it becomes.  The soil the trench is being dug in, the weather, the experience of the crew – it all adds up to what can be a fatal accounting.

OSHA has a section of their website devoted to proper trenching techniques.  It’s here.

To help in this effort, we’re happy to share a new trench safety message from U.S. Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta.

Feel free to use these two radio Public Service Announcements as you like, in an email, on your web site – whatever.

One is in English, the other in Spanish.



And as all first responders know, call 811 before you dig to get underground infrastructure located.  It’s fast, it’s free and it’s the law.

Until next time, safe digging!

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Summer is rolling on through South Dakota.

An Associated Press report says that just about all of the state’s corn and soybean crop is seeded in the ground, and just about all of the spring wheat crop is up.

You can read the entire article here.

Mix in some nice rains, some generous sunshine, and we should see a pretty good crop this year.

But what if there isn’t that much rain?  Crops will depend on water that’s piped in underground.  And that means this is as good a time as any to send out a few reminders from South Dakota 811.

First, any person owning or operating underground facilities, including propane, water, communications, electrical, drain tile, a farm tap distribution system, or any other buried facility which serves third parties or which crosses a property line or is located in a public highway shall register with the one call notification system as an operator pursuant to chapter 49-7A-1 (See Paragraphs (8), (9), and (10).)

Click HERE to register your farm tap with the South Dakota One Call Center.

Do you own drain tile, irrigation lines, buried power or any other buried services that enter the public right of way? Did you know that it is a legal requirement to register those buried facilities with South Dakota One Call? Are you aware of how low the cost is to protect your investment?

Registration is easy. Simply email MemberServices@sd811.com to begin the discussion about becoming a member of South Dakota One Call. Once you are a member you will be notified each time someone calls the South Dakota 811 Center about working near your buried lines. This will give you a chance to mark and protect those facilities to avoid damage by excavators working in the area. There is a one-time $35 sign-up fee, no matter how many lines you have or how much property you own. You will be charged only about $1 each time you’re notified by email that someone plans to dig near your property.

Finally, some underground lines on your property may not be owned by the utility and may not be located by them, such as lines that run from the meter to the house or lines between buildings.  These types of services can include water, electrical, communications, gas, etc..  These are considered “privately owned” facilities, in which case the utility has no record of the buried lines, and consequently they are not registered with the South Dakota 811 Center.  In these cases the utility may agree to locate them at your request for a fee, or you may have to hire an electrician, plumber or other independent locating company to mark those lines.

Let’s have a bountiful fall harvest, South Dakota!   And remember, South Dakota 811 is here to help you, 24/7/365.

Until next week, safe digging!

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment