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Dig Safe®

Dig Safe System, Inc. is a not-for profit corporation, funded entirely by member utility companies, such as Chicopee Electric Light, in the interest of public safety.

State Laws require anyone who digs to notify utility companies before starting, and for good reason. Digging can be both dangerous and costly without first investigating the location of underground utilities.

Dig Safe System, Inc. is a communication network, assisting excavators, contractors and property owners in complying with state law by notifying the appropriate utilities before digging. Dig Safe®, a free service, notifies member companies of proposed excavation projects. In turn, these member utilities respond to the work area and identify the location of underground facilities. Callers are given a permit number as confirmation. The toll free number for anyone who digs in Massachusetts is 888-DIG-SAFE ® (344-7233). In Massachusetts, state law requires advance notice of at least three (3) business days.

Member utilities, or contracted private locators, use paint, stakes or flags to identify the location of buried facilities. Color coding is used to identify the type of underground facilities:

ELECTRIC
GAS, OIL, STEAM
COMMUNICATIONS
POTABLE WATER
RECLAIMED WATER
SEWER
SURVEY MARKS
PROPOSED EXCAVATION

Links

Related Massachusetts Laws and Regulations
State Law Reference Guide
Dig Safe System Fax Form
Dig Safe System Location Request Form

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much does this service cost?
    Dig Safe® is a free service, funded solely by its utility members to promote public safety and avoid costly underground utility damage.
  • I am a homeowner who plans to hire a contractor to dig on my property. Who is responsible to notify Dig Safe®?
    Although some state laws do not specify whether the property owner or contractor should notify Dig Safe®, we recommend the contractor make the call. The contractor is usually more familiar with the information required to obtain a Dig Safe® permit.
  • What utility companies are required to join Dig Safe®?
    • Massachusetts: Gas, Electric, Telephone, Cable Television and Private Water Companies (water companies whose rates are regulated by the MA Department of Telecommunications & Energy)
    • IMPORTANT Municipalities (cities and towns who own water, sewer and drainage facilities) are not required to join the Dig Safe® system. It is your responsibility to notify any nonmember companies. How much time in advance to I need to call? In Massachusetts, state law requires a minimum notification of 72 business hours (3 business days). This does not include weekends and legal holidays.
  • I understand I am required to pre-mark the area of work. What does pre-marking mean, and how do I do it?
    State law requires all excavators to pre-mark the area of excavation before notifying Dig Safe®. Pre-marking is defined as marking out the scope of the proposed excavation area, using white stakes, paint or flags. Indicating exactly where the work will take place aids the utility locator in finding the area of upcoming excavation work, keeps operating costs down, and prevents excessive marking in areas where they are not needed. Click here for pre-marking guidelines.
  • Will private lines on my property be marked?
    Member utilities companies are responsible to mark only the facilities that they own or maintain. Private underground pipes and cables may not be owned or maintained by member utility companies, therefore they are unable to locate them. It is your responsibility to investigate if any privately owned utilities are in the area.
  • I've damaged a line. Now what?
    If there is a possibility that the damage may pose a threat to the health and safety of the public, call 911 in order to dispatch local officials who will determine whether the community is in immediate danger. Next, according to state law, it is the responsibility of the excavator to notify the affected utility company directly after damage occurs. State law prohibits the contractor from attempting to repair the line, or backfilling before the line has been repaired by the utility company. Familiarize yourself with your local utility companies' safety procedures and protocol in the event of utility line disruption.
  • I need to dig in the immediate proximity of a marked underground facility. How do I know how deep the marked facilities are?
    The depth of underground facilities is variable, therefore state law requires excavators to use non-mechanical means when digging within 18" of a marked underground facility. The current depth of a facility might not be the same as when it was originally installed, due to soil erosion, grading and many other factors. To ensure the safety of excavators and avoid utility disruption, it makes sense to hand dig when working near an underground facility.
  • I need proof of Dig Safe® notification. How do I obtain a copy of my Dig Safe® permit?
    Dig Safe® records are retained for seven years, and stored in an off site archival facility. To retrieve records, we require:
    1. A written request to retrieve your Dig Safe® permit, including the permit number(s). You may either mail, fax or e-mail this request to us. Contact Us
    2. A fee of $25.00 per ticket is assessed. Please make check payable to Dig Safe System, Inc.
    3. Dig Safe® permits are private records, therefore we may only send copies to the company that originally obtained them. Insurance claims staff or a third party may obtain copies of Dig Safe® permits, if we are provided with a release form from the excavator who originally notified Dig Safe®. This form should express the permission of the excavator to release these documents to the third party and include the excavator's signature.
    4. The requested documents will be furnished 30 days upon receipt of the written request, check covering costs to retrieve each ticket, and release form (if necessary.)