Excavator FAQs

Who is required to notify Sunshine 811?

Anyone who is digging. Chapter 556, F.S., defines digging as: auguring, boring, cable or pipe plowing or driving, directional drilling, ditching, grading, moving earth, pipe bursting, razing, scraping, setting poles, structure demolition, trenching, use of explosives, wrecking and any other trenchless technology.

How far in advance should I contact Sunshine 811?

A minimum of two full business days before you want to start digging – not including the day you contact 811. Weekends and holidays are not included in the two full business days. Tickets can be submitted online or by calling 811.

Do I have to notify 811 even when I am digging in a spot that was previously marked?

Yes! Don’t rely on your memory. Erosion and root system growth can alter the location of buried lines. Also, utility companies may have worked on their lines since the last time you dug – so you must get underground facilities located, each and every time.

I've waited the required time and there are no locate marks. What do I do?

Before contacting 811 or requesting another ticket, confirm that all members have responded to your ticket and compare those responses to what you see at your jobsite. Do this by logging in to Exactix and checking the responses to your ticket. Here are some helpful tips. If the response says your site is:

  • MARKED and you see no marks, double check the information on the ticket. If ticket information is incorrect, contact 811. If the ticket information is correct, contact the member directly.

  • UNMARKED and you see marks, contact the member directly.

  • CLEAR but you see permanent facility markers close by, contact the member directly.

  • CLEAR but you know that there are facilities present, they may be private facilities.

I don’t think the locate marks for underground facilities at my dig site are correct. What should I do?

Double check that the address on the ticket and the locate description match the physical location of the project. Then, contact the member directly. Contact numbers are on your ticket and in Exactix.

I've confirmed the member responses and all indicate the site is located, but when I got to the site there were no locate marks. What do I do?

Excavation or demolition is not safe without first checking into why the marks are not there. Double check that the address on the ticket matches the physical location of the project. Then, contact the member directly. Contact numbers are on your ticket and in Exactix.

If I'm a subcontractor on a job, do I have to get a separate locate ticket or will the general contractor's locate ticket protect me?

Sunshine 811 recommends that all excavators request their own tickets. Subcontractors can be listed in the “Remarks” section on the general contractor’s ticket, but any protections have not been challenged or ruled on in the court system. Obtain legal advice from your own attorney before relying on the actions of another party. If you decide to be listed on someone else’s ticket, make sure you are getting the electronic positive responses on a daily basis. The email copy does not give you the most up to date information.

Reasons to have your own ticket:

  • The law says anyone digging should notify 811.

  • Having your own ticket lets you easily access the member responses online and compare to what you see in the field.

  • The type of work listed on the ticket may be different from the work you are doing and could affect the way a member responds to the ticket.

I requested to meet with the member companies at my dig site, but no one showed up at the designated time. Why?

Requests are just that, requests. If you want confirmation that a member utility company will meet you, please contact that company directly to arrange a date and time.

Where can I dig and what is the tolerance zone?

You may only legally dig in the area described in the locate description on your ticket. If you go outside that area, you must request another ticket.

If you're digging close to the facility marks, remember this: the marks give you an approximate location of the buried line. Underground facilities have a tolerance zone that runs 24 inches from the facility’s outside edges. Use increased precaution to protect the underground facilities. Learn more by viewing the Florida Dig Law.

The locate marks at my excavation site have been destroyed. What do I do?

Stop digging where the marks are destroyed and request another ticket. Remember to reference the current ticket number for easy retrieval. You can dig in another part of the job site covered on the ticket where the marks are still visible.

How can I protect the marks?

  • Do not drive machinery over the marks.

  • Do not place spoil piles or building materials over marks.

  • Sweep paved areas often so that painted marks remain visible.

When can the marks be removed?

Flags and other marks are valid for 30 calendar days and may be removed after such time. If you’re involved in a large project with multiple construction companies, communicate with them before removing marks. They may also have a ticket for the same area and the marks are in the same area as your ticket.

What happens if I hit an underground facility?

If you hit a facility, no matter how insignificant it seems, you must stop digging and notify the owner of that facility directly using the contact information on your ticket.

If the contact or damage causes the release of natural gas or other hazardous materials, contact 911 and evacuate the area. The Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration offers the following guidelines and other actions to take.

Who is liable if I damage an underground facility after I have chosen to excavate after the required time, but before all locates were done?

Sunshine 811 does not determine liability in any situation. Those are questions that need to be addressed with the member company. We would like to point out, however, that there is nothing that excuses an excavator from digging safely. Review s.556.106, F.S., for further guidance.

What do the colors mean?

Underground facilities are marked according to APWA Uniform Color Codes. The chart below shows the colors and their designated facilities.

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