Call before you digTwo in five homeowners fail to call to learn the location of underground utilities before starting a DIY project, according to a survey conducted earlier this year on behalf of Common Ground Alliance (CGA).

AEM is a CGA supporter.

“According to the survey results, nearly half of American homeowners plan to do DIY projects this year involving digging, but tens of millions of them do not intend to make the critical call to 811 to have underground utility lines marked before breaking ground,” said William "Bernie" Bernhard, AEM manager, technical and safety services. "Making a free call to 811 reduces the likelihood of causing an incident – such as service outages or bodily harm in worst-case scenarios – to just 1 percent. We want this message to be top-of-mind as do-it-yourselfers complete their gardening or home improvement projects this summer and fall."

August 11 is 811 Day and AEM encourages all homeowners to take the following steps when planning a digging project:

  • Always call 811 a few days before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property.
  • Plan ahead. Most states require at least two working days for a locate to be completed. Call on Monday or Tuesday for work planned for an upcoming weekend, providing ample time for the approximate location of lines to be marked.
  • Confirm with the one-call service that all lines have been marked. Look for evidence of any utilities that may have been missed and ensure all underground utilities are located prior to excavating.
  • Consider moving the location of your project if it is near utility line markings. 
  • Only soft excavation in the tolerance zone. Know the tolerance zone for your state.
  • If a contractor has been hired, confirm that a call to 811 has been made. Don’t allow work to begin if the lines aren’t marked.

AEM Committed to Safe Equipment Operation

AEM and its members are committed to safety, and AEM assists manufacturers and the off-road equipment industry in fostering safety best practices through the Association’s extensive array of safety manuals, videos and related training materials.

AEM's ongoing Underground Utility Awareness campaign gives members another great opportunity to get involved and encourage safe equipment operation on the jobsite.

If your company would like more information on the Underground Utility Awareness campaign, contact AEM’s William “Bernie” Bernhard (, tel: 414-298-4106).