The US’ Common Ground Alliance (CGA), an organisation created to prevent damage to underground infrastructure, works very hard to promote use of the Call 811 service, the equivalent of Australia’s Dial Before You Dig 1100 number, and with good reason.
Because it gathers data on damage to underground infrastructure, which it publishes every six months in its Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) Report, CGA can confidently state: “An underground utility line is damaged [in the US] every six minutes because someone decided to dig but didn’t call 811.”
The centrepiece of the CGA’s Call 811 promotional efforts is National Safe Digging Month, held in April every year. Utilities and state-based 811 organisations — either individually or collaboratively — stage a wide variety of events to raise awareness of the Call 811 service. Here are a few examples from this year’s National Safe Digging Month (NDSM).
- The US Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) sponsored a nationwide 811 Poster Contest for school children (grades 4-6) and an 811 Video Contest (grades 9-12) to share and promote the 811 message. The grand prize winner from the poster contest, along with a parent or guardian, won a trip to Washington DC to attend a Washington Nationals baseball game in August 2016. One video contest grand prize individual or individuals in teams of two each received an $811 scholarship and a laptop computer valued up to $US1,500. The teachers of the grand prize winners or team scored a $US811 classroom education mini-grant.
- Kentucky 811 sponsored two jockeys and was rewarded for its efforts when one of them, sporting ‘Call 811’ on his silks, took first place in the Santa Anita Oaks race on April 9. Both jockeys rode in the Kentucky Derby — known in the US as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports" — carrying the Call 811 logo.
- Oklahoma’s OKIE811 hosted its second annual Oklahoma Excavation Safety Expo over two days to bring together excavators, underground facility owners and service providers from around the state. It attracted more than 250 registrants and 40 exhibitors. Attendees were able to take a trenching and excavation course and listen to several other trainers and speakers presenting a variety of excavation safety topics.
- South Carolina 811 (SC811) gave away 811 T-shirts at three minor league baseball games on Saturdays in April. It also reached out to gardeners by partnering with three local nurseries to give a 20 percent discount on trees or shrubs to any customer who mentioned SC811 before or on Earth Day. (April 22, the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970).
- Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) included a NSDM image and message in its corporate email signatures throughout April.
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