Sunshine State One-Call

Excavator digging in groundDigging responsibly is a safe way to dig. The alternative could mean disaster. One of our goals as a utility is to help build awareness and educate others to call Sunshine State One-Call of Florida, Inc (SSOCOF).

SSOCOF notifies member underground facility operators that digging or construction will occur in a given location near their underground services.

State Law

It’s a state law to call before you dig, the “Underground Damage Prevention and Safety Act,” Chapter 556, of the Florida Statutes. Professional excavators, underground facility operators (gas, electric, petroleum, water, sewer, cable, telephone), and homeowners are the primary targets of this “Prevention and Safety Act.” Everyone is urged to call SSOCOF at (800) 432-4770 a minimum of 48-hours prior to digging. SSOCOF then notifies its member underground facility operators that digging, construction, or demolition will occur in a specific location on a specified date. The operators then will go to the area and mark all of its services with paint, flags, or stakes.

Damages & Figures

Construction and excavation activities are the largest single cause of damage to underground facilities. Unsafe digging practices can result in major damages with far-reaching consequences, from personal injury and environmental damage to costly project delays and expensive repairs. To help quantify the scope of this problem, during the 10-year period of 1987 through 1996, the Department of Transportation’s Office of Pipeline Safety reported that there were 1,178 outside force accidents involving hazardous liquid and natural gas pipelines in the US resulting in 378 injuries, 68 fatalities, and more than $141 million in property damage. These figures do not reflect damage to cables and wires affecting services such as telephone or electric.

Gulf Coast Electric would like to stress the importance of complying with the call-before-you dig law and we would like to urge you to practice safe digging procedures. By obeying the law, we all can make a difference by saving lives, protecting property and the environment.

Sunshine State One-Call FAQ

As a member operator, I receive an extremely large number of locate requests. The “Call Before You Dig” Law state that I must complete these locates within 48 hours. With the large number of requests, that is sometimes impossible. What compliance issues do I face when I can’t complete all of the locates.

Chapter 556, F.S., actually takes this circumstance into consideration. 556.105 (5), F.S., states: “If the member operator is unable to respond within such time, the member operator shall communicate with the person making the request and negotiate a new schedule and time that is agreeable to, and should not unreasonably delay, the excavator.” This meaning if your workload is too heavy to timely complete all locate requests, simply contact the excavator using the contact information provided on the dig ticket, to set up an agreeable time to complete their locate request at the earliest possible opportunity.

I am a landscaper and I am working for a homeowner installing a sprinkler system on private property. Do I have to call for a locate request? If so, should I require the homeowner to call for the locate request before I start work?

Yes, a company performing any type of landscaping for a homeowner is required to “Call Sunshine” before digging. There are certain exemptions in place for a homeowner performing excavations themselves on their own private property, but these exemptions do not include a company performing work for the homeowner. Additionally, the company is required to “Call Sunshine” for themselves, as a ticket only covers the person actually performing the excavation.

During a storm, weather conditions caused damage to overhead electrical and telephone lines as well as uprooting some trees causing damage to the buried cables nearby. A utility pole and trees were blocking traffic and water was spraying from a water main. What should I do?

This instance would be classified as an “emergency” situation. Florida Statute 556 defines an emergency as “any condition constituting a clear and present danger to life or property….” The very first recourse would be to notify 9-1-1. This should always be the first action taken during any emergency situation. As a member operator, excavation for repairs should begin immediately, without contacting Sunshine State One-Call. Call Sunshine should be contacted at the earliest possible time after the excavation and repairs have been completed so that an accurate record can be maintained that there were excavations in the area. This will instigate notification to all other utilities in the emergency location that were unavailable to cooperate in the emergency effort so that their utilities can be checked for damage.

I am a member operator and have received a locate request. The underground facilities in the area of proposed excavation are older, non-metal lines, which cannot be located by audible locating equipment. Hence, excavation to locate underground facilities is necessary. Do I have to call for a locate request so that I can dig/locate pursuant to the locate request I received?

Exemptions exist for the purposes of “locating, repairing, connecting, or protecting, or routine maintenance of, the member operator’s underground facilities…” as long as the excavation is with hand tools by the member operator, or an agent of the member operator, owning the facilities. However, this exemption “is limited to excavations to a depth of 30 inches if the right-of-way has permanently marked facilities of a company other than the member operator or its agents performing the excavation” [s. 556.108 (5)]. As long as the limit of 30 inches in a marked right-of-way is not in danger, a ticket is not necessary in order for a member operator, or an agent thereof, to perform facilities location. “An excavator who performs any excavation with hand tools pursuant to s. 556.108(5) is liable for any damage to any operator’s underground facilities damaged during such excavation” [s. 556.106(5)].

After calling Sunshine State One-Call and receiving my ticket, what happens if the utilities have not located or given me an “all clear” notification? Can I proceed with excavation?

Yes, but with certain stipulations. First, the excavator should contact Sunshine State One-Call to request a second notice be sent to the member operators. Second, a non-compliance form should be requested from the non-compliance department (non-compliance forms can also be found at the Sunshine 811 website). 556.105 (6)(a)(1), F.S., states “If a member operator has not located and marked its underground facilities within 48 hours, excluding days other than business days, after notification under the system, the excavator may proceed with the excavation, provided the excavator does so with reasonable care, and provided, further, that detection equipment or other acceptable means to locate underground facilities are used.” Using only hand tools to proceed with excavation is recommended, but is not necessarily a waiver from liability issues.

I was digging and hit an underground line without breaking it. What should I do?

“Damage means any impact upon or contact with, including, without limitations, penetrating, striking, scraping, displacing, or denting, however slight, the protective coating, housing, or other protective devices of any underground facility, or the removal or weakening of any lateral or vertical support from any underground facility, or the severance, partial or complete, of any underground facility” [s. 556.102 (3)]. “If any contact with or damage to any pipe, cable, or its protective covering, or any other underground facility occurs, the excavator causing the contact or damage shall immediately notify the member operator. Upon receiving notice, the member operator shall send personnel to the location as soon as possible to effect temporary or permanent repair of the contact or damage. Until such time as the contact or damage has been repaired, the excavator shall cease excavation or demolition activities that may cause further damage to such underground facility” [s. 556.105 (12)].

When I call Sunshine State-One-Call for a locate request, the customer service representative reads a list of member operators who will be notified. They also inform me that I must “notify all non-members directly.” How can I determine if a non-member exists in my proposed excavation area?

Many times, the utilities in a specific area will be listed on some sort of marking in the easement or right-of-way; simply comparing the listing of member operators given by the customer service representative to any markings posted in your proposed excavation area will, in most cases, be a safe way to acquire non-member contacts. However, your proposed excavation site may be away from any permanently marked right-of-way, you may need to contact a local city official to obtain more information of any utilities in your area. SSOC also requests that you report any non-member operators in your area to SSOC so that we may follow up with membership information for that non-member.