After experiencing one of the harshest winters in recent years Iowans are ready for spring. It is important to remind Iowa's 98,000 farmers to follow safe digging guidelines. Iowa law requires anyone planning projects that may entail digging or excavating to notify Iowa One Call toll-free at 800-292-8989 or dial 811 so that underground facilities can be properly located and marked.
The National Safety Council reports that agriculture continues to be the most hazardous industry in the country. Iowa One Call is working daily to improve the safety of Iowa farmers by coordinating location and marking of underground utilities. Iowa law requires farmers to notify Iowa One Call before chisel plowing, subsoiling or ripping more than 15 inches in depth, drain tile excavating, terracing, digging or driving a post in a new location other than replacing a post while repairing a fence in its existing location.
Notify at least 48 hours in advance
Notification must be made at least 48 hours in advance (excluding weekends and legal holidays). Excavators are reminded to avoid digging within 18 inches either side of flags and paint markings.
"Agriculture has one of the highest annual injury rates for workers in the nation, surpassing all other industries including mining, construction and manufacturing," says LaMar Grafft, Iowa Farm Safety Council president. "It is important that Iowans use safe farming practices throughout the year, and this includes calling Iowa One Call before digging or excavating."
Although farmers may know where a pipeline is located and think they know how deep it is, the land can change over time with erosion. "Farmers should leave it to facility owners to mark utilities. If farmers hit a pipeline or other underground facility, they could be critically injured or seriously impacted financially. Violations of the Iowa One Call law relating to pipeline incidents may result in civil penalties ranging from $10,000 to $500,000, and the financial liability stemming from environmental and property damage may extend into the seven figures," says Ben Booth, public relations coordinator for Iowa One Call.
Calling Iowa One Call is easy
The national One Call 811 phone number was established last year. This is a standardized number for callers anywhere in the country to reach the respective One Call Center in their state, but Iowans can still reach Iowa One Call at 800- 292-8989 or via the Web at www.iowaonecall.com. The Iowa One Call Center received 409,787 calls last year resulting in 2,152,272 locates.
Iowa One Call is a nonprofit organization with over 1,500 members, including city and county utilities, electric companies, gas companies, water and sewer districts, telephone companies and cable TV and Internet providers. Iowa One Call coordinates the marking of underground facilities throughout the state – 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Each year, Iowa One Call personnel handle more than 400,000 incoming calls and coordinate over 2 million underground facility locates within Iowa. Historically, the center's peak period is from April through October, when customer service representatives average more than 45,000 calls per month. For more information, visit the website.
When should farmers contact Iowa One Call?
Booth says farmers should call before these excavations:
- Chisel plowing
- Drain tile excavating
- Waterway projects
- Digging or driving a new fence post
- Any project penetrating the soil 15 inches or more
He says normal farm operations that don't require a call include the following:
- Plowing (penetrating less than 15 inches)
- Cultivating (penetrating less than 15 inches)
- Replacing a fence post in its existing location
- Normal field activities penetrating soil less than 15 inches
Farmers who contact Iowa One Call and comply with state excavation rules are not held responsible for damages that occur in normal farming operations - providing the damage was not intentional or caused by recklessness or wanton disregard. For additional rules for farmers, visit the "Farm Operations" link at www.iowaonecall.com.