Apr 25, 2022
Dig Safely Hotline Protects Utility Services, Public

April is designated as national Dig Safely Month, and Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. reminds anyone planning to dig to first submit a location request through UDig NY (formerly Dig Safely NY), or by calling 811, the toll-free Dig Safely hotline. Through the hotline, underground utility lines and equipment can be marked and properly identified prior to the start of excavation. The service is provided at no cost to the caller.

“Using UDig NY or calling 811 before digging so that underground lines can be marked out and identified is required by everyone, from homeowners tackling backyard projects to contractors undertaking major construction jobs,” said Charles A. Freni, President and CEO of Central Hudson. “Prevention is the best way to avoid serious consequences associated with contacting or damaging underground utility lines,” he said. “Having your utility company mark out critical underground facilities is required by law, as damaging underground systems is costly, detrimental to those whose services are interrupted and potentially hazardous to the excavator and public.”

Freni said that before digging, even by hand on a resident’s own property, call 811 or file a location request at www.udigny.org at least two to 10 days before any excavation takes place to ensure underground lines are located and marked. Underground utilities can be located on both public and private property, so locating underground systems prior to any excavation work is critical.  This online and toll-free national calling service connects excavators to their regional One-Call center that alerts utilities, municipalities and other parties of the intention to excavate at specific sites so that the lines can be properly marked. There is no charge for the service, and utility crews will locate and mark lines at no cost to the caller.

Excavators must also be familiar with New York State Code Rule 753, which sets regulations governing the protection of underground facilities and public safety. Duties of Excavators include:

  • Providing notice of excavation to UDig NY
  • Preserving markout until no longer required
  • Verifying location of underground facilities by hand in the area of excavation
  • Understanding powered excavating equipment limitations
  • Supporting and protecting facilities in work zone
  • In the event of an emergency, evacuate all personnel in the vicinity, immediately notify 911 and the utility operator

  For more information about this regulation, visit https://udigny.org/resources/nys-code-rule-753/.

Once the lines are marked, workers using mechanized equipment must stay clear of the “tolerance zone,” which is an area two feet plus half the diameter on either side of marked lines, until the underground facility is uncovered by hand digging. If contact with underground facilities occurs, the excavator must contact the 911 immediately and then notify the utility, whether or not the lines appear damaged. Excavators must also understand the type of the underground facilities at their work location, for example whether natural gas, electric, telephone, water or other lines are present. 

Private facilities owned by businesses and homeowners are not marked as part of the UDig NY process.  Private facilities which are not marked by the utility can still be located by private locate companies.  A list of private locate companies can be found within Dig Safely NY’s website   https://udigny.org/diyers/private-locators/.

When working near utility underground or overhead lines, excavators and construction crews are always encouraged to contact Central Hudson to review plans and discuss ways in which to work safely. Other recommended steps include:

  • Establishing a communications plan with workers to inform them of the location and potential hazards of utility lines in the area;
  • Creating a boundary around areas to be avoided, including guy wires, service lines, gas and electric meters, pad-mounted transformers and other facilities by using cones or tape;
  • Keeping a safe distance from overhead utility facilities, at least 10 feet from local power lines and 25 feet or more from high-voltage transmission lines. Workers should carry ladders, pipes and other long objects horizontally rather than vertically and should wear appropriate safety gear.
  • If contact is made with gas or electric utility lines, call 911 and never attempt to make any repairs or adjustments to utility facilities.
  • If a gas odor is detected, remember to ‘Stop. Go. Let Us Know’ by ceasing all activities, evacuating all workers and others from the immediate vicinity and calling 911 and Central Hudson’s Gas Odor Response hotline at 1-800-942-8274 to report the odor.


Freni explained that the regulations are designed to protect excavators, the public and owners of underground lines. “A moment of inattentiveness can result in injury, damage or worse,” he said.

Dig Safely New York has developed a comprehensive Excavator Certification Program in Best Practices for Safe Digging.  Completion of this course will satisfy New York state legislation that requires contractors and excavation personnel employed by a municipality or utility operator to complete a training and education program.

Additional information about the UDig New York One-Call system and requirements for excavating near marked lines is available at https://udigny.org/; information on  811 service is available at www.call811.com; click here to see a video on digging safely; and to learn more about contractor safety and working near utility lines, call Central Hudson at (845) 452-2700 or 1-800-527-2714, or visit www.CentralHudson.com/My-Energy/Safety/Dig-Safely/

#          #          #