What does DIG SAFELY mean?
  1. DIG SAFELY is a nationally recognized safety program developed by an industry wide group of experts from all stakeholder groups including excavators and utility operators. The purpose is to increase excavation safety and reduce dangerous and expensive damage to vital underground utilities. The Office of Pipeline Safety of the US Department of Transportation introduced it. The DIG SAFELY message is at the heart of the New Mexico One-Call law.

In New Mexico, Dig Safely means:

  1. Only begin excavation after the area is marked or cleared and positive response has been provided by all underground facility owners/operators (UFOs) and the two working day marking period has expired.
  2. State law requires the excavator to preserve line location markings or provide an offset mark before obliterating a locate mark.
  3. Maintain the required tolerance zone until the underground facility has been exposed (by hand digging or vacuum excavation) and can be clearly seen.
  4. Provide the required support for exposed underground facilities during the excavation as necessary.
  5. Use the proper procedures to backfill with care and avoid damage to existing underground facilities.
  6. Call for relocates when appropriate if the excavation work is delayed and going to exceed 10 working days.
How much advanced notice is required in New Mexico?

The standard locate request must be made at least two working days before the start of the excavation and is valid for a 15-working day period.

Is Positive Response required by New Mexico Law?

Underground facility owners/operators (UFOs) have two working days to provide a positive response to the one-call center. An excavator is required to verify that all underground facilities have been marked and a positive response has been provided prior to commencing excavation. If the excavator determines that underground facilities have not been marked and positive response has not been provided, then the excavator is required to call the one-call center to verify that advance notice was transmitted to the UFO, the two working days have expired, and response has not been received.

The excavator is not permitted to dig until all the facilities have been marked or cleared.

What is “the 18-inch rule” in New Mexico?

Often referred to as the tolerance zone. The excavator is required by law to maintain a clearance of 18 inches from the cutting edge of his mechanical equipment, including mechanical boring, to the edge of the underground facility as determined by the horizontal mark on the surface of the ground. Depth of facilities is not provided.

What do I do if I damage an underground facility?

If you damage an underground facility If an underground facility is damaged during excavation, you must stop excavation, call 911 if appropriate, notify the UFO immediately, and call 811 to report the damage. Damage may include nicks, dents, gouges, cuts, scrapes or scratches to the coating, insulating jacket, or tracer wire.