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Irrigation Association of New York

Markout is a Must! Tom Tracey, CIC, CID, CLIA Dimension II Associates

Are you sure you called for a markout before running that pipe? It happens all the time. You think, “it’s a small job, just gotta run a couple of pipes.”

The electric, television cable and telephone are all overhead. You never had a problem with the gas service to the house, because that’s always down deep to code. You know that the mark-out is free, but it takes a couple of days. You want to do this job today!

You start your first pull across the front curb, and then it happens. You look down and see dirt blasting up from the ground. You smell gas! You better run!

Now comes the time to assess what you just did. First, thank your lucky stars you didn’t blow up. Now just keep praying that the gas line you just hit doesn’t explode. A little spark from a cell phone or just the static electricity from the gas flowing through the pipe could do it. Get everyone clear and call the gas company. You should call the fire department as well.

Consider yourself very lucky if no one got killed, and all you have to do is pay for the repair. This will be hard when you get the bill. The guys who come out to fix these things weren’t just sitting around waiting for some joker to find them some work. No, this job smells like OVERTIME! And they’re going to need a small army of men on overtime to fix this one. On top of that you’re also liable for a $1,000 fine for not calling for the markout in the first place.

My strong recommendation is that you get to know all about the laws pertaining to excavation. The law is: 16 NYCRR Part 753. You can get a copy of it from: The New York City and Long Island One Call Center, telephone 718-631-6700 or go online to www.nycli1calldsi.com

If a utility company sees you trenching on a site that you know has never been touched before … you are still liable for a fine of $1,000.

Some of the things I read there quite surprising. Any time you dig with anything other then by hand, at any depth, a mark-out is required. Forget about the idea that those cables should be buried 24 inches and my machine is only going down eight inches. Even if you “know” that it’s all clear, you must still get a mark-out. If a utility company sees you trenching on a site that you know has never been touched before, and couldn’t possibly have any underground utilities, you are still liable for a fine of $1,000. The next time you get caught it could be $4,000 – even though you didn’t damage anything! Of course, if you do damage something, you’ll get a nice bill for that too. I’m sure your insurance company will also appreciate that you do this kind of work. They’ll let you know what they think when it’s time for you to pay those premiums.

The story you just read is true. I still thank God that that we got off lucky. I’ve read stories of people who were not so lucky. So, hopefully, you will heed this warning: Get a Mark-Out and Dig Safe! It could cost you $1,000 or a whole lot more.