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April 17, 2018
For Release: Immediately
Excavators: Call Before You Dig 

April is designated as national Dig Safely Month, to remind anyone planning to dig to first call 811, the toll-free Dig Safely hotline, so that underground utility lines and facilities can be marked and properly identified prior to the start of excavation.

“Accidental contact with underground utilities by excavators can cause serious consequences, including property damage, interruption of critical services, injury and even death,” said Charles A. Freni, Senior Vice President of Customer Services and Transmission & Distribution Operations at Central Hudson. “Before digging, even by hand or on your own property, be certain to first call 811 to ensure underground lines are located and marked. Making the call is the law, and damaging underground systems can be costly, detrimental to those whose services are interrupted and potentially hazardous to the excavator and public.”

At least two to 10 days before any excavation takes place, even digging by hand, New York residents and contactors must first dial 811, a toll-free national calling service that connects excavators to their regional or statewide One-Call center. Making the call is required by law, and the service alerts utilities, municipalities and other parties that operate underground facilities of the intention to excavate at specific sites so that underground utility 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.

Once the lines are marked, workers must respect the “tolerance zone,” an area two feet to either side of marked lines where mechanized equipment cannot be used until the underground facility is uncovered by hand digging. If contact is made underground facilities, the utility must be contacted immediately, whether or not the lines are damaged. Excavators must also understand the nature of the underground facilities at their work location, for example whether natural gas, electric, telephone, water or other lines are present.

When working near utility underground or overhead lines, excavators and construction crews are always encouraged to contact Central Hudson and meet with a representative 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 ‘ Go. Let Us Know’ by stopping 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 these regulations are designed to protect excavators, the public and owners of underground lines. “A moment of inattentiveness can result in injury, damage or worse, so remain focused when excavating,” he said.

Additional information about the Dig Safely New York One-Call system and requirements for excavating near marked lines is available at; information on the 811 service is available at; click here to see a video by the American Gas Association on natural gas safety for children; 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

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Before digging, even by hand, be certain to first call 811 to ensure underground lines are located and marked. These regulations are designed to protect excavators, the public and owners of underground lines. Below: Once located, underground lines are identified with a unique paint color.