WorldWide Drilling Resource

30 SEPTEMBER 2022 WorldWide Drilling Resource® A Historic Year for One Call Compiled by Amy White, Associate Editor, WorldWide Drilling Resource® Before 811 was nationally adopted, an abbreviated method for calling to locate underground utilities was a work in progress for many years in the U.S. Damage prevention came to the forefront in 1968 with the passage of the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act. When the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established in 1971, pressure mounted to make underground damage control official. The Utility Location Coordination Council was founded by The American Public Works Association (APWA) in 1973. The first One Call managers meeting took place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1975. These managers became the One Call Systems International Committee of APWA which organized to advance information sharing. In 1979, APWA distributed the Uniform Color Code and Guidelines for Uniform Temporary Marking of Underground Facilities, a set of standards which is still in place today with minor updates. In the following years, more and more workers began using One Call as an essential safety resource. The volume of calls nationwide prompted simplification of the process. As part of the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002, Congress required a three-digit, nationwide toll-free number to be established for use in state One Call systems. In 2005, 811 became the designated number for homeowners and excavators to call before digging. The number gave everyday people a way to easily communicate with local utilities before beginning a project. Countless water mains, electric cables, Internet and telecommunication cables, and gas pipelines have been avoided ever since. According to research, if a person calls 811 before digging, there is a 99% chance they will avoid incidents of injury, damage to the environment, or fatalities. This year, many One Call centers are celebrating 50 years of improving underground safety. Their operations began with teletype systems and have since progressed to computerization and even automation; but the original goal to cooperate, communicate, and coordinate has remained the same. As technology continues to advance, the work carries on to ensure safe and successful jobs for individuals and industries which rely on One Call as a lifeline. Michigan’s Miss Dig and several other One Call centers across the U.S. are celebrating 50 years of operation. Image courtesy of C&G