Know what’s below; call JULIE before you dig

JOLIET—Knowing what lies below the ground before a shovel or auger touches it can prevent costly and serious accidents. Representatives of JULIE, Inc. (Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators) recently announced the kick-off of a statewide public safety campaign, titled “See What We See,” that stresses the importance of calling the one-call system (1-800-892-0123) before starting any digging projects.

“Careless digging poses a threat to people and underground facilities,” said Mark A. Frost, executive director at JULIE, Inc. “Homeowners and contractors can avoid injuries and protect the state’s vital energy and telecommunications infrastructure with one phone call before doing any work that requires digging, regardless of the depth or size of the project. The call to JULIE and service provided by members are free.”

According to the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), a 1,200-member, national inter-industry group that promotes safety, there are about 400,000 excavation incidents each year across the United States, resulting in substantial damage to facilities and about 50 fatalities. Illinois law requires anyone digging to call JULIE, Inc., at least two working days prior to the start of excavation and to begin that project within 14 calendar days from the call. The 48-hour notice does not include Saturdays, Sundays or holidays.

Safety tips for homeowners and contractors

Today, more utility companies that supply power, gas, water and telecommunications are delivering these services underground. Following are a few simple safety tips when planning outdoor projects:

Call JULIE (1-800-892-0123) before you dig;

Wait the required amount of time (two working days);

Respect the marks; and

Dig with care.

“Digging safety is never out of season. Call center representatives at JULIE are available to receive and process calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Frost continued.

Types of outdoor projects

For residents considering any improvements and/or repairs outside the home, following a few precautions can help avoid a painful and costly accident. Common examples of homeowner projects that require a call to JULIE before digging include putting up a fence; installing a swing set, a mailbox post or water feature such as a pool, pond or fountain; building a deck or room addition; preparing a new garden area; or planting trees, bushes or shrubs.

JULIE, Inc., is a not-for-profit corporation that provides excavators with a toll-free number (1-800-892-0123) for the free locating and marking of underground facilities. JULIE serves as a notification service for underground facility owners, taking information about planned excavations and distributing this information to its membership. It is then the responsibility of each facility owner to mark the location of their underground facilities at the excavation site. JULIE neither owns nor marks any underground facilities.

The Illinois One-Call System received a record 1,225 million underground utility locate requests from professional excavators and homeowners in 2005. Established in 1974, JULIE represents more than 1,700 members. JULIE has 100 employees during peak periods and is located in a state-of-the-art facility in Joliet, Ill.

For a copy of JULIE’s Homeowner’s Guide with additional safety tips, including the meaning of the different color flags and marks used by each utility locator type, visit .

From the June 7-13, 2006, issue

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