As the excavator or contractor, your role is important in keeping every dig safe.
- Contractors & excavators guide
Call Before You Dig
A minimum of two full business days prior to excavation, call 811. This will allow owners and operators of underground facilities an opportunity to locate and protect their facilities by marking those facilities within your dig site. If your dig site is in an area which is underwater, you must call 10 full business days before digging. Day one begins the day after you call, do not include Saturday, Sunday, or the 6 legal holidays that Montana 811 excludes. See UDIG Law State Holidays.
Excavators are encouraged to become an Authorized Contractor. This simply gives Montana 811 your contact information, so you won’t need to repeat this information each time you request a locate ticket. Locate tickets can be requested via telephone, call 811. Standard locate requests can also be requested online. Requests can be made 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We never close. See how to Become an Authorized Contractor.
Prepare Before Calling
Be prepared to give detailed directions to the excavation site (driving directions are best) and marking instructions for the specific area where locates are needed. If you’re digging in a small portion of a property, don’t request the entire property be located and marked. You will be required to pre-mark, with white paint, the outer boundaries of where you’ll be digging if all the of following three items are true:
- The member could not understand from the written description where the locates are needed.
- The actual excavation involves a portion of land that is less than 500 feet in length.
- White lining will not interfere with traffic or pedestrian control. Note: It is recommended that white lining be done with a non-permanent white paint.
Why the Legal Waiting Period?
The legal waiting period gives Montana 811 member utilities time to complete one of the following tasks:
- Let you know that no conflicts exist.
- Physically locate and mark the horizontal location of underground facilities within your excavation site. Note: This does not include the vertical depth of the underground facility.
- Contact you to schedule a new locate due date and time that is mutually agreeable and will not unreasonably delay your work.
- For more information, see Montana UDIG Law.
Keep Marks Visible
It is the excavators responsibility to maintain locate marks for the duration of the ticket. If, during the course of excavation, the marks are destroyed, you must STOP excavation and contact Montana 811 to request a new locate ticket. Reference the old ticket number. If your locate ticket expires before your dig is complete, you must call for a refresh/remark of the original located marks (do this at least 2-business days before your original ticket expires to avoid an interruption of your excavation). For more information see Frequently Asked Questions.
Proceed cautiously when digging within 18 inches on either side of the locate marks. This area represents the tolerance zone, and underground facilities can fall anywhere within that space. The use of any mechanized equipment within the tolerance zone requires supervision by the excavator.
What to Do If You Hit a Facility
Stop excavation. If you have created a potentially dangerous situation (such as hitting a gas line), evacuate the area and call 911. You are additionally required to call 811 and inform them of the hit, even if there is no noticeable damage.