News

MARCH 31 DEADLINE FOR 2020 DIRT DATA

March 31 is the deadline for all Sunshine 811 members to get their damage data entered into the Florida Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT).

Damage reporting is mandatory for Sunshine 811 members per s.556.105(12)(b). Sunshine 811 uses this crucial data to plan new education, awareness and damage prevention initiatives. But, a few significant data points are often reported as unknown, giving Sunshine 811 an incomplete picture of what is happening in Florida.

This year, we urge our members to report their damage data, and include the data that will help us better target where more education or awareness is needed. Those data points include excavator type, equipment type, work type, and root cause.

For more information, please visit our Florida DIRT page.

Avoid these DIRT mistakes when loading your data

Steve Blaney, DIRT Program Manager

The start of a new year is typically the time to review the past 12 months and get organized for the coming year. Near the top of all DIRT user lists is loading DIRT data. The following are some mistakes we occasionally find in the data that are likely based on confusion or misunderstandings:

Mistake: Entering above-ground or non-excavation events as underground damages

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The annual DIRT reports and dashboards focus on excavation-related underground damages. CGA also collects and analyzes underground near miss data. DIRT also accepts reports on above-grade and other “non-excavation” damages, but these are offered for users who want to use DIRT as their internal record-keeping system. If you do not use DIRT in this manner, please leave out reports for events such as: car hit meter or pole, lawnmower broke valve, dump truck snagged overhead wires, etc. If you do use DIRT this way, be sure to select the appropriate Type of Event.

Mistake: Leaving City and Address fields blank

DIRT allows these fields to be blank because not all events occur in an incorporated town, city, or village, and not always at or near a building or property with an address. However, this practice complicates efforts to identify multiple reports of the same event. It can lead to false positive matches because the algorithms end up comparing blank against blank for these fields and treat it as a match. The practice can also cause actual matches to be missed if one party enters the information and another party leaves it blank. If you do have the information, please enter it rather than leave it blank just because it is allowed.

Mistake:  Improper use of “Call Center Error” root cause

This root cause is intended for errors at or by the one call center, such as not correctly entering the work site on the ticket. It is not for errors by excavators with respect to their 811 notification, such as providing wrong information or not making notification at all.  For those situations, please choose one of these options:

  • No notification made to One-Call Center/811

  • Excavator dug outside area described on ticket

  • Excavator dug prior to valid start date/time

  • Excavator dug after valid ticket expired

  • Excavator provided incorrect notification information

Mistake:  Improper use of Liquid Pipeline as Source of Event Information

Reports have been entered in DIRT with water as the facility damaged and liquid pipeline as the event source. On closer review we find the submitter is a water provider. Water is a liquid, but the Liquid Pipeline event source is intended for companies that transport hazardous products like oil or propane.  Private Water or Public Works should usually be the event source for water facility damages.

For questions about the DIRT Report, email Steven Blaney.

 

Gov. DeSantis signs HB 1095 amending Florida’s one call law to expand enforcement authority, increase penalties

(Tallahassee, FL) – Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 1095 into law amending the Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act, Chapter 556, Florida Statutes. The revised law, which establishes new noncriminal violations, enhanced penalties, more enforcement entities, and incident reporting requirements, goes into effect July 1, 2020.

Amendment Highlights

  • Expands the list of entities that may issue citations for violations of Chapter 556, F.S., to include the State Fire Marshal, or its designated agent, and local fire chiefs.

  • Increases the maximum civil penalty (up to $2,500 plus court costs) for certain violations of Chapter 556, F.S., that involve an underground pipe or facility transporting hazardous materials regulated by the U.S. DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA). Eighty percent of the civil penalty must be distributed to the entity that issued the citation, and the clerk of court retains the remainder.

  • Requires each clerk of court to submit an annual report to the State Fire Marshal listing each citation issued for a violation of Chapter 556, F.S., which was filed in that county during the preceding calendar year.

  • Defines the term “permanent marker” and establishes a criminal penalty for knowingly and willfully removing or damaging a permanent marker placed to identify the location of an underground facility.

  • Requires excavators and underground facility operators to transmit reports of incidents that involve high priority subsurface installations (HPSI) for investigation by the State Fire Marshal, or its designated agent, who may issue a citation and impose a civil penalty up to $50,000 when a violation of Chapter 556, F.S., is a proximate cause of the incident.

  • Upon collection, five percent of the civil penalty must be retained by the clerk of court, and the remainder must be distributed equally between Sunshine 811 (to fund damage-prevention education) and the State Fire Marshal (to fund programs that provide financial assistance to fire departments to procure equipment, supplies, and educational training designed to mitigate firefighter exposure to hazardous, cancer-causing chemicals).

  • Establishes a new violation for failure to comply with s. 556.105(5)(c), F.S., which requires an excavator to use increased caution when working within a tolerance zone which includes hand digging, pot holing, soft digging, vacuum methods, or other similar procedures.

  • Requires Sunshine 811 to review all reports made to the State Fire Marshal and all other complaints of alleged violations of Chapter 556, F.S., to identify issues related to damage prevention and enforcement, and annually provide an analysis and recommendations to the Governor, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Please refer back to https://sunshine811.com for new information we roll out on these amendments.

2020 dig law legislation sent to Governor for review; could become law July 1

2020 dig law legislation sent to Governor for review; could become law July 1

The 2020 Florida Legislature passed HB 1095 to amend the Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act, Chapter 556, Florida Statutes. On June 17, 2020 the legislation was presented to the Governor for review and - unless vetoed - will become effective July 1, 2020. New violations and enhanced fines are just some of the changes in the new law.

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

Sunshine 811 opens Single Address Ticket

Due to the overwhelming number of Single Address Ticket users trying to use the system, Sunshine 811 has opened the Single Address Ticket feature.

  • Single Address Tickets should be requested by homeowners and excavators digging at one address.

  • Professional excavators who use Internet Ticket Entry should NOT use Single Address Tickets.

  • Excavators wanting to dig in larger areas, between intersections or in the Right-Of-Way, to name a few examples, must use Exactix ITE. To be notified when new user registration and ITE training is available, please visit https://www.sunshine811.com/ite-application and complete the form located on that page.

To get registered for Single Address Ticket, follow the instructions here.

Thank you for bearing with us

On January 10, 2020, callers wanting to request locate tickets were met with busy signals. Those who reached Sunshine 811 were on hold for almost an hour - and sometimes longer. Plus, some Internet Ticket Entry users couldn’t get logged in. You were frustrated. You were upset. And you just wanted to reach a human!

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What Happened

Wednesday evening, January 8, 2020, Sunshine 811 was attacked by a malicious virus, shutting down our systems and phones. It couldn’t have happened at a worse time as we were preparing for a cut over to a new system, Exactix.

Our Technical Operations Department worked 30 hours straight to rebuild the servers and the conversion went on as scheduled the night of January 9, 2020. By 8:30 a.m. January 10, the call center was taking calls again.

Why the busy signals?

Call volume has been extremely high as excavators had to make up for the missed day. Additionally, not all ITE users had pre-registered for Exactix, which led them to also call 811.

Each day things get a little better. Our answer speed is steadily declining and ITE users are getting registered. We thank you for your continued patience as we work through all of the details.

Questions about Exactix, Utilisphere or ITE Registration?

  • Visit my.sunshine811.com and click Exactix Support to find the answers.

  • When existing ITE user registration is further along, we’ll open ITE for new users. To be notified when new ITE user registration is open, complete the form at sunshine811.com/ite-application.