Excavators throughout Florida may experience increased penalties, fines and job-site shut-downs as Sunshine State One Call of Florida Inc. launches an eight-county enforcement program to educate Florida’s excavators on safe digging practices as outlined in state law, Chapter 556, F.S., the Underground Facilities Damage Prevention and Safety Act.
The program, which began last month, uses off-duty officers to patrol neighborhoods and construction projects in search of excavators who have not called 800/432-4770 to have buried utility lines located and marked before digging.
Targeted counties include Duval, Hernando, Pinellas, Martin, Okaloosa, Seminole, St. Lucie and Volusia. Excavators without a valid locate ticket for any project that involves digging run the risk of paying fines from $250 to $5,000. Plus, contractors will suffer lost revenues from their job site being shut down until they have a valid locate ticket and have waited the required two full business days before digging.
“We wanted to create a system that could help us find out, first hand, whether excavators were aware of the need to call before digging,” explained Mark Sweet, executive director of Sunshine State One Call of Florida Inc. (SSOCOF). “Using off-duty officers lends credibility to our efforts and hopefully will reduce the number of utility service outages and personal injuries or deaths that occur each year as a result of someone hitting a buried utility line.”
SSOCOF is a call center mandated by state statute to receive calls from professional excavators and homeowners two full business days before digging. Based on that call, SSOCOF produces a locate ticket which is transmitted to utility owners with buried facilities close to the excavation site. Utility owners are then responsible for locating and marking their buried utility line with color-coded paint or flags, or clearing the site.
SSOCOF offers free educational sessions to professional excavators and homeowners.
For more information, visit www.callsunshine.com.
Today's top stories