We often take the usefulness of unseen technologies for granted. Underground utilities help make our lives easier every single day, but we rarely stop to think about where these important utilities are located. Therefore, it is easy to overlook these vulnerable utilities when you start a new project that requires excavation.
In part one of this two-part series, our contractor attorneys in Mobile, AL at Cotney Construction Law outlined some of the underground utilities to watch out for when digging. In part two, we will address additional underground utilities that may be hiding below the surface of your next construction project.
Electric lines pose one of the greatest threats to diggers. Severing an electric line with metal tools can result in immediate electrocution. In the past, rushed jobs have left workers with irreversible injuries from electrocution, and some of those instances have resulted in fatalities. Electric lines are typically located 18-36 inches below the surface. Damaged electric lines can also result in active fires, so contact the utility company immediately if you strike an electric line while digging.
Phone and Cable Lines
Phone and cable lines don’t pose a direct threat to construction workers, but if they are damaged during excavation, it can be inconvenient for local residents in the area of your job site. The depth of phone and cable lines varies greatly depending on the formation of rock below the surface. In most cases, these lines are located 3-24 inches underground.
A burst water main is quite the spectacle. As water gushes out and cascades through the air like a geyser, it resembles the pictures of Old Faithful that regularly grace the pages of National Geographic. In reality, a damaged water main is bothersome and dangerous. The initial deluge of water is problematic, but close proximity to electrical outlets or exposed wires of any kind could be deadly. Locating a water main can be tricky. Depending your area’s climate and frost line, the depth of a water main can vary greatly.
Calling 811 before an excavation will connect you with a local digging expert to guide you through the safe process of digging, otherwise you risk damaging underground utilities. It is important to act deliberately when you plan to excavate a job site. If you prefer to meet with someone face-to-face, speak with a contractor attorney in Mobile, AL before proceeding with an ill-advised excavation.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.