Aches and pains of COVID-19 spread across safe digging spectrum

Everyone in Florida has been touched in some way by COVID-19 (Coronavirus). And if you’re in the excavation, utility or locating industry, you too are being impacted by this pandemic.

Some of you may be reducing staff or even moving employees to work from home, impacting available resources at any given time, to get a job done. This could impact a utility company’s ability to respond to locate tickets in a timely manner, others may declare Extraordinary Circumstances, and excavators may not be able to start or complete jobs.

Whatever a utility company’s situation, please ensure that you and your excavating staff continue following the provisions in Chapter 556, Florida Statutes. Here are some key points to help you navigate through the Coronavirus’ effects on your business:

  • If you can no longer perform your excavation project, cancel your locate ticket by calling 811. Internet Ticket Entry (ITE) users can cancel tickets online.

  • If your job is in process and you need to stop work, remember to check the due date on the ticket to ensure that it is not expired before beginning excavation again. If your ticket has expired, please call 811 to renew your ticket. ITE users can renew tickets online.

  • If a utility company declares extraordinary circumstances, you will see code 3T on your Positive Response Summary. Callers will be told of the declaration during the call. Continue following the normal procedures specified in Chapter 556, F.S., such as waiting two full business days, following low impact marking and high-priority subsurface installation requirements, and checking the Positive Response System.

  • If the two full business days pass and underground facilities are not located or there is no positive response update provided, contact the utility directly using the information on your ticket. Section 556.105(6)(a) allows excavation to proceed if the excavator does so with reasonable care and if detection equipment or other acceptable means to locate underground facilities are used. There is no time limit on extraordinary circumstances.

  • For additional safety, consider hiring a private locate company to locate and mark both public and private underground facilities at your job site. There are several listed on our associate member page. Simply click “Locating” under Tag Category.

Sunshine 811 Staffing Update

Sunshine 811 takes the health and well-being of its staff seriously and have some of our employees already working at home. We’re working to get a larger portion of the workforce also moved home. Rest assured, we are still taking calls! But given work-at-home situations, hold times might be a little longer than normal. Internet Ticket Entry will continue to function as normal and you can create tickets online anytime and anywhere you have internet.

Sunshine 811 Education and Event Update

It’s uncertain how long these measures will need to be taken. For the safety of our stakeholders and employees, we have cancelled our events and will not be attending industry meetings. If you have questions about the process or would like to schedule a web conference or teleconference, please visit our Damage Prevention Liaison webpage and contact the liaison for your county.

Helpful Links and Information

https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html

The most recent recommendations from Florida can be found at: http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/COVID-19/index.html