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Before Tackling Fall Excavation Projects Remember to Call Iowa One Call

September 10, 2007

Observe Iowa Farm Safety and Health Week by Calling Iowa One Call Before You Dig!

As residents statewide observe Iowa Farm Safety and Health Week September 16-22, held in conjunction with National Farm Safety and Health Week, Iowa One Call reminds farmers and gardeners to follow safe digging guidelines. With everything from fall landscaping to harvesting underway, we should note that Iowa law requires anyone planning projects that may entail digging or excavating to notify Iowa One Call so that underground facilities can be properly located and marked. Notification must be made at least 48 hours in advance (excluding weekends and legal holidays) and may be done by calling toll-free (800) 292-8989 or by dialing 811. Excavators are reminded to avoid digging within 18 inches of flags and paint markings.

“Agriculture has one of the highest annual injury rates for workers in the nation, surpassing all other industries including mining, construction and manufacturing,” said LaMar Grafft, Iowa Farm Safety Council President. “It is important that Iowans use safe farming practices during harvest and throughout the year, and this includes calling Iowa One Call before digging or excavating.”

General Guidelines for Farm and Garden Projects
While most routine garden projects don’t require a call to Iowa One Call, people should notify Iowa One Call before digging a new garden or using equipment, such as a power tiller. The guidelines for farmers are more complex and include a special 15-inch rule for determining whether Iowa One Call should be notified. For example, routine harvesting and plowing procedures that typically do not penetrate the ground 15 inches don’t require a call, but other activities that do penetrate the ground 15 inches or more, such as sub-soiling, ripping or fence maintenance, do require advance notification to Iowa One Call.

New 811 Nationwide “One Call” Number
The launch of the new federally mandated 811 three-digit dialing system allows callers anywhere in the country to reach the respective One Call center within their state. One phone call to this easily-remembered 811 number quickly begins the process of getting underground utility lines marked – regardless of where you live. In conjunction with the new 811 number, Iowa One Call will continue to maintain its current toll-free number (800-292-8989).

How Iowa One Call Works
When Iowa One Call receives a call, it transmits the locate request to the appropriate underground facility owners/operators, who will mark the utilities. Iowa One Call’s service is free to callers, but individuals who fail to contact Iowa One Call prior to digging are subject to civil penalties that may range from $1,000 to $10,000 per violation. They also risk serious – potentially life-threatening – injury to themselves and others.

Iowa One Call is a non-profit organization with over 1,500 members, including city and county utilities, electric companies, gas companies, water and sewer districts, telephone companies and cable TV and Internet providers. Iowa One Call coordinates the marking of underground facilities throughout the state – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Each year, Iowa One Call personnel handle more than 400,000 incoming calls and coordinate over 2 million underground facility locates within Iowa. For more information, visit www.iowaonecall.com.

When Should Farmers Contact Iowa One Call?
Rules exclusively for Iowa farmers

Call before excavations, including:
 Chisel plowing
 Subsoiling    
 Ripping
 Drain tile excavating
 Terracing
 Waterway projects
 Digging or driving a new fence post
 Any project penetrating soil 15 inches or more

Normal farm operations don’t require a call, including:
 Plowing (penetrating less than 15 inches)
 Cultivating (penetrating less than 15 inches)
 Planting
 Harvesting
 Replacing a fence post in its existing location
 Normal field activities penetrating soil less than 15 inches

Farmers who comply with state law by notifying Iowa One call at least 48 hours prior to excavating will not be held responsible for damages that occur in normal farming operations – providing the damage was not intentional or caused by recklessness or wanton disregard. For additional rules for farmers, visit the “Farm Operations” link at www.iowaonecall.com.

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