Safety and Labor-Management Relations  > Labor Law Compliance > Underground Utility Line Protection FAQs

Underground Utility Line Protection

Who is responsible for placing the call on a job where several contractors are digging?

The person or company performing the excavation or demolition work is responsible for placing the One Call. If the work is subcontracted out then the subcontractor is responsible for placing the One Call.

Do I have to mark in white paint for every excavation site?

The law states, that “a contractor shall use the color white to mark a proposed excavation site when exact site information cannot be provided.” The use of white paint is strongly suggested, but if the contractor provides a site-specific description on the One Call ticket then the contractor does not have to mark the worksite in white paint. A site is a clearly defined, bounded area. The area includes relevant, identifiable points of reference. The points of reference include but are not limited to the specific address (if any), with a specific description as to the address (front, back, left side, right side); direction (N, S, E, W) or other distinguishing landmarks. Where possible, these points should also include the size and radius or circumference of the excavation; utility pad numbers, telephone pole numbers, landmarks (trees, fountains, fences, railroads, highways, pipeline markers, etc.); and latitude and longitude*.
*based on feedback from utility owners, contractors, and designers

At the 313 Washington Court, excavating using a backhoe in a ten foot radius around the lamp post at the right front corner of the property.
Working on the east side of Main Street - excavating 4 foot x 4 foot holes at 100 feet, 150 feet and 200 feet south of Elm Street between the sidewalk and the curb.
Working on east side of Main Street between Elm and Pine Streets 3 feet west of east curb-line of Main St. - a 4 foot trench extending the entire length between Elm and Pine.

How many different kinds of tickets are there and when do I have to respond to an Emergency ticket?

Under the law there are two types of tickets, routine and emergency, each with a different timetable for excavation to begin. Routine calls require a 3 working day notice, emergency calls do not require the 3 working day notice. An emergency is defined by Section 1 of the Act as “a sudden or unforeseen occurrence involving a clear and immediate danger to life or property, including but not limited to, serious breaks or defects in a facility owner’s lines.”

What are the recognized legal holidays?

Legal Holidays:
New Year’s Day Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
President’s Day Good Friday
Memorial Day  Independence Day 
Labor Day Flag Day
Columbus Day Election Day
Veteran’s Day Thanksgiving Day
Christmas Day  

What is KARL?

KARL stands for, Kathy Automated Response to Locates. The toll free number for KARL is 1-800-222-6470. This system is used by the facility owner and excavator to communicate with each other regarding the locate process. Facility owners use one of 7 response codes to indicate the outcome of the locate.

What are the 7 KARL response codes?

1 – Clear. No facilities
2 – Conflict. Direct Contact to Follow by Facility owner.
3 – Marked.
4 – Insufficient Information.
5 – Not marked due to no access.
6 – Date and time mark scheduled by.
7 – Voice message. (Remains for 30 days)

How do I get the responses left on KARL by the facility owners?

At the end of two working days, POCS will transmit a fax or phone the contractor advising them of the KARL response tally for their ticket.Contractors can call the KARL system at any time at 1-800-222-6470 to check the status of the locate process. Facility owners are required by law to respond to KARL.

Can I begin my excavation if a facility owner has not responded through KARL?

If the facility owner fails to respond to the contractor's timely request within the two work days as provided for under clause (5) of section 2 or the facility owner notifies the contractor that the line cannot be marked within the time frame and a mutually agreeable date for marking cannot be arrived at, the contractor may proceed with excavation at the end of three working days, provided he exercises due care in his endeavors, subject to the limitations contained in clause (5) of section 2 and clauses (2.1) through (4).

I have a large project and I am having problems getting utilities to respond, what can I do?

For large or multiple work areas the contractors must set-up a pre-construction meeting so that the locator may locate their facilities at a reasonable time in advance to the start of excavation or demolition work for each phase of the work being performed. Excavators can make requests for Pre-Construction Meetings via the PA One Call System by creating a call ticket with the meeting request as part of the REMARKS section.

Do we need to re-notify the One Call Center every ten days?

You are not required to re-notify the one call system every ten days. However, you must re-notify the one call system if working in a new area, if the scope of the work is changed, if you leave the worksite and remove equipment for more than 2 working days, or if the original markings are lost.

Who is responsible for maintaining the markings, once the locator leaves the excavation site?

The contractor is responsible for protecting and preserving the staking, marking or other designation until they are no longer necessary for proper and safe excavation. In the event that the markings are compromised, the contractor must re-notify the one call system and wait an additional 3 working days.

How long before excavation activities should I place a One Call?

Anyone performing excavation or demolition activities is required to notify the one call system not less than 3, nor more than 10 working days prior to excavation or demolition work. The toll free number for the one call system is 1-800-242-1776.

Who has to be a member of the One Call System?

All facility owners are required to be a one call member and must provide the One Call System with the legal name of the facility owner, the names of the counties and municipalities, down to and including wards (only required in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown and Erie) in which their lines are located, the facility owner’s address and the telephone number and fax number for inquiries and the street identifications, within or outside of the municipality in which its lines are located. If a facility owner does not belong to the One Call System and a line or facility is damaged as a result of not being notified, there is no right to recovery for those damages.

What should I do if a line is struck?

If a line is struck, the person performing the excavation must report immediately to the facility owner any breaks, leaks, dents, gouges, grooves or any other damage to lines or their coating or cathodic protection. In the event of a 'dig-up,' contact the PA One Call System at 1-800-242-1776. POCS will proceed to contact the concerned facility owners and will provide facility owner contact information to the excavator. Contractors are required to report any damage discovered during the course of excavation even if such damage was not caused by the contractor. Additionally, if the situation constitutes an emergency, which may include but is not limited to, a sudden or unforeseen occurrence involving a clear and immediate danger to life or property, including, but not limited to, serious breaks or defects in a facility owner's lines, call 911.

How does the American Public Works Coordination Council Temporary Marking Standards require us to mark our lines?

The facility owners have to mark their lines with the following information in order to comply under the law.
a. Appropriate color code (water-based paint or chalk)
b. Facility owner name
c. Size of facility (if greater than 2”)
d. Make of facility (steel, plastic, etc.)

What is the One Call System?

The one call system is a single nonprofit communication clearinghouse established within this Commonwealth to provide a single toll free telephone number for contractors or designers or any other person covered by this Act. The one call system notifies the facility owner of the contractors’ intent to perform excavation. The one call system is located in West Mifflin, PA.
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