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Safe Hand-Digging Practices
Review these safety tips from PPL Electric Utilities with coworkers at your tailgate or toolbox meetings before work begins to help avoid potential hazards when working near overhead and underground power lines.
You've notified 811, and all buried utility lines on your job site have been located and marked. Now your power-digging work can begin, right?
Not so fast. In Pennsylvania, before you can use power-digging equipment to cross a marked utility line or excavate within 18 inches of either indicated outside edge of the line, you must first verify the line's exact location and depth by nonintrusive methods such as vacuum excavation or hand digging.
Hand-Digging Tips
Protect underground utility lines from damage and protect yourself from injury with these hand-digging tips:
Use a rounded or blunt-edged shovel. Sharp tools like pickaxes, mattocks, pry bars or pointed spades may gouge or puncture lines.
Start your digging off to the side of the marked utlllty line. Use a gentle, prying motion to break away soil as you approach the utility laterally.
Never pry against a utility line to remove soil, and never stab at the soil or stomp on the shovel with both feet.
Prevent Muscle Strain and Injury
Always wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Don't twist your torso to move the dirt; move your feet to turn your entire body. Alternate shoveling between your left and right sides. Take care to prevent muscle strain, and take breaks to prevent fatigue.
Report ALL Damage
Even a slight gouge, scrape or dent to a utility conduit or its coating may cause a break or leak in the future. Protect all exposed utility lines and check them regularly for damage. Before you backfill, check them again. Report any line damage or any unintentional line exposure directly to PPL Electric Utilities or contact the PA One Call 8-1-1 Center, so our crews can inspect the line and make the necessary repairs.
Would You Like to Know More?
Additional overhead and digging guidelines, case studies, instructional videos and FREE training materials can all be found on the PPL Electric Utilities’ e-SMARTworkers website.
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811 | know what's below. | Call before you dig.
For Emergencies:
Call 911 and PPL Electric Utilities at
1-800-342-5775 (1-800-DIAL-PPL)