April marks Safe Digging Month, and BC 1 Call is encouraging British Columbians to click or call before they dig.
The start of spring is when homeowners and contractors often begin projects that involve disturbing the ground. But blindly digging without checking what lies below can have dire consequences.
“You need to know what’s in the ground before you can start to dig safely,” President and CEO of BC 1 Call Chris Hyland says. “Otherwise, you could cause severe injury, there could be a major environmental impact, or you might be financially liable.”
Fortunately, getting information about what’s in the ground is a call or click away with respect to 351 infrastructure owners, who are members of BC 1 Call.
BC 1 Call was formed in 1994 by public and private sector infrastructure owners to make it as easy as possible for anyone planning to break ground to find out how to avoid damaging buried facilities or causing personal injury. BC 1 Call is both a shared damage prevention service and a safe digging service.
“BC 1 Call is your link to safety,” Hyland says.
The free service is easily accessible to homeowners, contractors and member employee field crews. Anyone can request a free locate ticket online 24/7 or via phone during regular business hours, at 1-800-474-6886.
The process is easy. Just submit a ticket to BC 1 Call with details about the excavation project, including location. BC 1 Call immediately notifies all members who have pipes, cables conduits and other buried facilities that are in or near the excavator’s dig site. The process ends with the contractor or homeowner receiving instructions within three business days from BC 1 Call members on how to proceed safely to avoid hitting underground utilities.
“We strongly encourage people to use the online approach. It’s faster,” Hyland says. “You provide the necessary information including the defined work area, and then follow the instructions received directly from our members. It’s just that simple.”
In 2020, 49% of 1,249 reported damage incidents to underground infrastructure in BC were a direct result of not contracting BC 1 Call before digging.
Some of the hazards of not first contacting BC 1 Call or following instructions include damaging a gas line, taking out a phone or internet line, disrupting community water supply and causing environmental damage by creating spillage.
It's estimated that the annual cross-country tally of infrastructure damage and such related consequences is over $1-billion.
Avoid financial liability
“Whether you’re a homeowner working on a small outdoor project, or a professional contractor responsible for a large construction project, it’s always important to think of BC 1 Call before you start disturbing the ground,” Hyland says.
Contractors who damage underground infrastructure could see their job sites put on pause for a few hours or even a few days while they wait for the owner of the damaged utility to arrive to inspect and undertake repairs that are billed to the contractor.
Homeowners could find themselves financially responsible for all infrastructure repair costs related to damage on their property. For those on a tight home improvement project budget, this could be a particularly costly, unwanted and unexpected expense.
Avoid Disruption of Critical Services
Contacting BC 1 Call is a year-round best practice that prevents avoidable damages to infrastructure carrying drinking water, internet, heat, air conditioning, telecommunication and other critical services.
“You could be taking out your elderly neighbour’s ability to call 911. You could end up polluting a stream with chlorinated water. It’s just a risk you don’t want to take,” Hyland says.
Damage incidents and service disruptions can be avoided, and you can help reduce the number of damage incidents by contacting BC 1 Call and following the instructions provided by its members before digging.
Dig safely by first submitting a locate ticket today: visit www.bc1c.ca or call 1-800-474-6886.