Every year, organizations across the nation recognize National Safe Digging Month (NSDM) in April. There are plenty of ways your organization can participate.
During the month of April, National Safe Digging Month has campaigns and activities that focus on promoting safe digging to the general public and professionals nationwide.
The CGA (Common Ground Alliance) offers a toolkit that includes media materials and digital tools that companies can access as they are planning their National Safe Digging Month events. Many materials may require a membership to the CGA, and if you are interested in becoming a member you can find more information on their website.
Recognizing National Safe Digging Month is a great opportunity for all organizations, and even if you aren’t a member of CGA there are many ways to promote this worthwhile cause.
Take a look around the CGA website. They offer plenty of free resources, including toolkits and videos, that you can use during National Safe Digging Month and beyond. Popular topics include:
- 811 Tips for Facility Owners
- Incident and Disaster Response
- Efficient Use of 811 for Professional Excavators
The CGA also offers a Best Practices Guide called The Definitive Guide for Underground Safety & Damage Prevention. The online version can be viewed for free, members have access to a downloadable version, and hard copies can be purchased by anyone.
According to CGA, the societal cost of damages to underground infrastructure is 30 BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR. For comparison, that dollar amount is equal to half the Housing and Urban Development budget and double the annual U.S. law enforcement operations budget.
40% of active diggers don’t contact 811 before digging because they think their project is too shallow to require it, but the truth is, utilities can be buried just inches below the surface. The only way to know for sure is to contact 811 before any digging project.
On the job, backhoes contribute to more damages than any other digging equipment. Before workers jump in the cab and work gets started, make sure 811 has been called and the underground utilities have been marked.
811 “Call Before You Dig” was created to provide homeowners, businesses, and contractors with a nationwide, easily accessible resource to contact before digging starts. Every dig requires a call. When you call 811 you are automatically routed directly to your local 811 call center.
To find out more about 811 in your state, explore the map on the call811.com website. You will be able to make your request online, see the specific waiting period in your area, and learn more about safe digging in your state.
Anyone who plans to dig should call 811 or go to their state 811 center’s website a few business days before digging to request that the approximate location of buried utilities be marked with paint or flags so that you don’t unintentionally dig into an underground utility line.
Always contact your 811 center, wait the required time for utilities to respond to your request, and ensure that all utilities have responded to your request before putting a shovel in the ground or starting up large excavation equipment.
Throughout the month of April there are plenty of ways your organization can recognize and promote National Safe Digging Month. Here are some great ways to participate to make it meaningful for your workforce:
- Include an article about National Safe Digging Month in your company newsletter or on your organization’s online blog. You can provide educational information about safe excavation practices that are relevant to your industry.
- Host a safety meeting or toolbox talk on a topic like excavation safety, potholing, or working around large equipment.
- Promote National Safe Digging Month on your social media channels by using the hashtags #NSDM and #Call811 and be sure to tag your local 811 call center.
- Schedule a training session on trenching and excavation safety. Consider using video resources in your training class to make a bigger impact.
- Send information out to all employees via email that includes information about the importance of Call 811 and other home safety tips to remember as they are starting home improvement and landscaping projects during spring as the weather warms up.
- Add some colorful posters to a centrally located bulletin board that promote Call 811 and safe digging practices.
During National Safe Digging Month, businesses can also participate in Locator Safety and Appreciation Week, held during the last full week of April each year. Locators encounter safety hazards on a daily basis while they are doing their job to keep workers and the community safe from excavation hazards. Locator Safety & Appreciation Week (LSAW) provides an opportunity for organizations to thank these boots-on-the-ground heroes and let them know their contributions to safe worksites and communities are valued.
Safety awareness campaigns, like National Safe Digging Month, provide a great opportunity for organizational leadership to highlight the commitment they have made to worker health and safety. Not every awareness event is going to pertain to every company, but there are plenty to choose from throughout the year. Consider the best approach that makes the most sense for your workforce with the resources you have available. You can make a difference and your efforts do have a positive impact on workplace safety.