PUC Marks 'Safe Digging Month'; Highlights Actions of Damage Prevention Committee

April 11, 2019

HARRISBURG -- In conjunction with National Safe Digging Month, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today reminded consumers, businesses and contractors of the importance of identifying underground infrastructure before digging to help ensure safety and highlighted the actions of the Damage Prevention Committee (DPC).

"This time of the year often brings more construction and home improvement projects,” said Commissioner John F. Coleman Jr. "Every year, 6,000 hits are reported on underground facilities across Pennsylvania, with each one of these incidents posing a danger to contractors, utility workers and nearby residents, along with the possibility of service interruptions, environmental damage and costly repairs to damaged lines. It is important to contact the Pennsylvania One Call (PA One Call) system by calling 8-1-1 before any excavation work, to ensure that lines are properly located and marked.”

Coleman also noted that since its first hearing in November of last year, the DPC has filed approximately 415 disciplinary actions resulting in more than $302,000 in total fines against facility owners, excavators and project owners. The creation of the DPC was authorized by Act 50 of 2017, which enhances Pennsylvania's Underground Utility Line Protection Act -- also known as the "One Call Law.” 

The DPC is part of the PUC's independent Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement, which also includes the Pipeline Safety Division. Modeled after successful programs in other states, the focus of the committee is a reduction in the number of "hits” on underground utilities. The DPC meets regularly to review alleged violations of the Act and makes determinations as to the appropriate response including, but not limited to, the issuance of warning letters or administrative penalties. The committee holds public meetings in Hearing Room 1 of the Commonwealth Keystone Building, Harrisburg, and each of the meetings is livestreamed on the PUC's website.

State law requires contractors and residents to contact PA One Call at least three business days prior to excavation -- triggering alerts to all utilities within an intended digging area and prompting utilities to mark where their facilities are located. Pennsylvanians can dial 8-1-1 to connect with the One Call system, while out-of-state residents or businesses can call 1-800-242-1776.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.

For recent news releases and video of select Commission proceedings or more information about the PUC, visit our website at www.puc.pa.gov. Follow the PUC on Twitter -- @PA_PUC for all things utility.  "Like” Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Facebook for easy access to information on utility issues.

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David Hixson

Deputy Press Secretary



Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
Press Office
P.O. Box 3265, Harrisburg, PA 17105-3265
(717) 787-5722 FAX (717) 787-4193