Professional excavators and contractors in Iowa are being reminded about the dangers associated with their jobs. The Iowa One Call organization is holding 29 presentations around the state that focus on safe excavating procedures. Spokesperson Ben Booth says Iowa law requires any person who plans to do work that involves digging to first call Iowa One Call at 8-1-1.
Booth says the meetings are primarily focused on the 811 message, but they’re also providing information about general safety awareness. The Iowa One Call system coordinates the locating and marking of underground facilities such as gas, telephone, electric, sewer and water lines.
Booth says, "Simply digging into a fiber optic line could put an entire community out of telephone service, which would render the 911 emergency system obsolete. Or you could dig into a natural gas line and create an explosion or fire. So, it’s very important to remember as an excavator, as a professional, there’s a lot at stake." Anyone who fails to call Iowa One Call and ruptures an underground line could face fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 per day.
"Yes, there are fines and there is liability," Booth says, "but first and foremost, you want to make sure that you don’t shut a system off that someone relies or cause a fire or blow somebody up. You know, there could be a fatality at stake or environmental damage…all kinds of nasty things if you dig into something you shouldn’t dig into." An Iowa One Call Excavator Safety Awareness Program is scheduled over the lunch hour today (Monday) at the Des Moines Airport Holiday Inn.
Another program is scheduled tomorrow in Newton and three more next week in Spencer, Cherokee and Carroll. A complete list of all the upcoming program dates, times and locations is available on-line at the Iowa One Call website.