Excavators' Guide DRAFT - May 2024

GUIDELINES FOR SAFE DIGGING

Safe digging is a shared responsibility and Blue Stakes encourages everyone to follow the national campaign, 5 Steps To Safer Digging:

  • Always Contact 811 Before Digging

Contact 811 at least three (3) business days before digging and provide accurate dig site location information.

  • Wait the Required Amount of Time

Allow facility operators time to locate and mark facilities.

  • Confirm Markings are Accurate

Ensure facilities are located and marked accurately and completely. If not, submit a No Response Notice.

  • Respect the Marks

Respect and protect markings throughout the excavation.

  • Dig Carefully

Carefully dig using hand tools within the tolerance zone, 24 inches on either side of the markings.

PREFACE

This excavation guide is an educational document for anyone who plans to excavate, dig, construct, or undertake any project that requires disturbing the earth’s surface. Please use it as a reference tool when planning your excavation and when interacting with the notification center at Blue Stakes of Utah 811 (Blue Stakes). This guide reflects the policy of the Board of Directors at Blue Stakes. It does not have the force and effect of law. The governing law is Utah Code Title 54, Chapter 8a, Damage to Underground Utility Facilities.

Every effort has been made to accurately reproduce the applicable sections of Utah State Law contained in this guide. However, Blue Stakes, its officers, directors, employees, and agents make no representations or warranties as to the accuracy of this reproduction. This guide is not intended to alter the requirements of Utah Code Title 54, Chapter 8a, Damage to Underground Utility Facilities, or any local ordinance, and it should not be used as a legal reference document. Persons seeking interpretations of the law should contact their own attorneys.

The information in the first section of this guide is designed to help excavators who want to contact Blue Stakes; it is also intended to help facility operators who must respond to information provided to them by Blue Stakes. The middle section of this guide contains a reproduction of the Uniform Color Code and Marking Guidelines, published by the Common Ground Alliance. The last section of this guide contains a reproduction of the Utah State Law describing the rights of the excavators and facility operators. While familiarity with this guide is recommended for all excavators and facility operators, their responsibilities are as provided by law.

This guide does not have a copyright. The contents of this guide are subject to change without notice. The latest version of this guide may be obtained here: bluestakes.org/excavators-guide/ or by contacting Blue Stakes for printed copies.

I. WHAT’S BURIED BELOW THE SURFACE OF THE GROUND

When you dig anything, from a posthole to a major excavation, you run the risk of damaging underground utility lines. Various types of utility lines including electric, gas, telephone, fiber optics, cable television, oil/ petroleum, water, and sewer are buried everywhere. These facilities may be in streets, down alleys, under vacant ground, in farmland, along property boundaries, within railroad rights-of-way, over mountains, etc. Even the presence of overhead utility lines does not rule out the existence of buried power, cable television, or telephone facilities.

Excavators are liable for damage to underground utilities when they do not contact Blue Stakes for utility locations before excavating or when the excavator does not follow the proper procedures for safely excavating around buried facilities. Damages can also occur from improper backfilling around exposed utilities.

II. EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

Blue Stakes offers a variety of online and in-person damage prevention educational opportunities:

  • Damage prevention educational classes provided by Blue Stakes for your organization are tailored to fit your needs. To schedule a training class, contact education@bluestakes.org
  • Damage Prevention Seminars are held in January and February each year throughout the state of Utah (CEU credit eligible) – visit bluestakes.org/events/
  • Excavation Safety 101 online training course is available to take at your convenience (CEU credit eligible) – visit bluestakes.org/education
  • The 811 Process and other training videos are available on our YouTube channel – visit bluestakes.org/videos
  • Quick Ticket Entry app and training is available online for additional functionality and high-volume users. Visit bluestakes.org/excavation
  • For additional information and helpful resources – visit bluestakes.org

III. DETERMINING WHO AND WHEN TO CONTACT

The Utah Damage to Underground Utility Facilities Act requires anyone engaging in any activity which displaces earth, rock, or other material on or below the ground is moved or displaced to notify Blue Stakes no less than 48 hours before excavation begins.”48 hours” is defined as a 48-hour period, occurring during business days that includes any day except Saturday, Sunday, or a holiday, that begins at 8:00 a.m. on the first business day after notice has been submitted.

It is recommended to submit a locate request at least three (3) business days before excavation begins; but not more than 14 days before excavation begins.

If more than one excavator will be digging at the same excavation site, each excavator is required to notify Blue Stakes of the proposed excavation, as defined by Utah State Law.

Blue Stakes was created to provide one association for excavators and the public to notify member facility operators of intended excavation. Although the Utah State Law requires all facility operators with underground facilities to participate, some facility operators do not receive notice of excavation because they are not members of Blue Stakes. An electronic copy of the request can be provided to you, which includes the member facility operators notified for your excavation site. Blue Stakes encourages excavators to notify nonmember facility operators directly.

Blue Stakes should NOT be contacted for any of the following reasons:

  • To report any type of service
  • To resolve any type of utility billing
  • To report any excavation outside the state of
  • To request initiations of any type of utility
  • To request any type of facility removal or

IV. HOURS OF OPERATION

Blue Stakes is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and these Holidays:

Closed Holidays Include:

  • New Year’s Day 
  • Presidents’ Day
  • Labor Day
  • Memorial Day 
  • Independence Day 
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Pioneer Day (July 24th)
  • Day After Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Eve Day
  • Christmas Day

Blue Stakes is open to process locate requests on the following Holidays, however, they will be treated as closed federal holidays in our system, therefore legal dates and times will be calculated accordingly:

Open Holidays Include:

  • Martin Luther King Day
  • Juneteenth Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veterans Day

Many requests can be processed online outside of business hours, see Section VII. ONLINE LOCATE REQUEST NOTICES.

For After-Hours Emergencies, please see Section VI.

V. BLUE STAKES TELEPHONE NUMBERS

Blue Stakes can be reached at the following numbers during normal hours of operation:

  • (800) 662-4111 (Toll-Free)
  • (801) 208-2100 (Salt Lake City)

VI. TYPES OF LOCATE REQUEST NOTICES

Blue Stakes handles several types of excavation notice requests. The following is a brief explanation of each:

A. REGULAR NOTICE (NEW) – Utah State Law requires at least three (3) business days’ notice, but not more than 14 calendar days before the commencement of excavation.

B. UPDATE NOTICE (UPDT) – A locate request is valid for 21 calendar days from the date the request is submitted. If excavation activity will continue beyond this 21-calendar day period, an excavator must update the request at least three (3) business days but no sooner than seven (7) calendar days, before the original request’s expiration date. The update notice will create a new expiration date that is 21-calendar days after the original request’s expiration date. The excavator should continue to give notice in like manner for each 21-calendar day period during which excavation activity continues.

NOTE: According to Utah Code 54-8a-4(9), an excavator may be responsible for the costs incurred by an operator to remark its underground facilities following the second or subsequent notice given by an excavator at the same location. An excavator should not submit multiple notices for the same location before excavation activity has started or after excavation activity has been completed.

C. NO RESPONSE NOTICE (NRSP) – To facilitate safety and damage prevention, Utah State Law requires excavators to submit a No Response Notice on the current locate request if the excavator suspects any underground facilities have not been marked in the proposed excavation area before they may begin excavating. A No Response Notice should also be submitted if an unmarked underground facility is found or suspected during excavation. To ensure the proper member facility operators are notified an excavator must provide Blue Stakes which member facility operator(s) or facility type(s) have not responded to the current locate request. Blue Stakes will only send the notice to the indicated member facility operators. The notified member facility operators will be required to respond and/or mark their facilities within 4 business hours of the No Response Notice.

D. EMERGENCY NOTICE (EMER) – An emergency is defined by Utah Code 54-8a-2(3) as, “an occurrence or suspected natural gas leak necessitating immediate action to prevent or mitigate loss of, or damage to, life, health, property, or essential public services.” Excavators submitting locate requests as emergencies that do not meet the definition of an emergency as described above may be charged the cost of locating and marking underground facilities by facility operators. 

Member facility operators will attempt to respond as soon as possible, to mark their facilities. However, if a facility operator does not respond within a reasonable time period and you cannot wait until the legal date and time as provided on your locate request, you may be responsible for any damages caused if you proceed with the excavation.

AFTER-HOURS EMERGENCIES

Emergency notification on weekends, holidays, and on normal workdays after 4:00 p.m. or before 8:00 a.m. should be reported directly to facility operators. You may access their emergency contact information using the Utility Contact Lookup tool on the Blue Stakes website under the Tools section, or directly here: UCL.bluestakes.org

E. RE-MARK NOTICE (RMRK) – If the markings locating the underground facilities no longer identify the location of the facilities due to fading caused by time, weather, construction or other reasons, the person performing the excavation is required to notify Blue Stakes and suspend excavation of the site. Member facility operators are required to re-mark the area by 8 AM on the third business day after the re-notification.

F. MEET REQUEST NOTICE (MEET) – Most locate requests can be described over the phone or online. In situations where excavation projects are large, complicated or within a restricted area, a meet may be necessary. If a meet is requested, the excavator will need to provide address information for a suitable location to meet, as well as the general boundaries of the dig site. The specific excavation area(s) within these boundaries can then be shown and discussed with the field locators at the meet. A map of the excavation area may be required to be provided to each field locator at the meet.

A meet should only be set up when it is impossible to explain the project over the phone. Many times, what may seem to be a complicated project can be described easily if it is broken into several pieces and the excavation site is pre-marked using white paint, stakes, or flags. For example, instead of trying to describe a major project involving work on several different roads, a separate locate request can be created for each road, with each request describing the area specific to that particular road.

A meet should not be requested for multiple isolated locations, such as ground rod installation or tree planting in an existing neighborhood. Instead, separate locate requests should be created to break up the area street-to-street or by individual address.

If it is absolutely necessary to set up a meet, a Blue Stakes Locate Specialist can set up an appointment between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. at least three (3) business days from the time of the call. The member facility operators have three (3) business days after the time of the meet to mark their facilities. They may request additional time if the area is extensive or difficult to mark. If any member facility operator is unable to attend the meet, it is the member facility operator’s responsibility to contact the excavator to make other arrangements. The following procedures must be followed when requesting a meet:

  • You must be present at the exact time and location given on the request. Member facility operators will only wait at the specified location for 15 minutes. If you do not show up at the requested time and place, your request will be void. Unless otherwise noted on the Meet request, meeting sites are outside.
  • You will be required to provide member facility operators with either a written description or a map of your excavation area with the exact excavation areas described or marked.
  • Meets cannot cover several non-adjoining sites. In situations where there are several sites, a request must be made for each site.

G. PLANNING & DESIGN NOTICE – Blue Stakes does not process non-excavation locate requests for planning and design purposes. Blue Stakes will, however, provide planning and design contact information for member facility operators, which should be used to contact the facility operators directly. This information may be obtained in one of the following ways:

  • Using the “Utility Contact Lookup” tool located on the Blue Stakes website at: UCL.bluestakes.org/
  • Sending an email to: design@bluestakes.org which includes a brief description of the future excavation site.

VII.  ONLINE LOCATE REQUEST NOTICES

Excavators may submit Blue Stakes locate request notices online, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. A brief explanation of these online options is listed below. For the most up to date online locate request options, please visit: bluestakes.org/excavator/.

A. CREATE NEW LOCATE REQUEST – New locate requests may be submitted online at bluestakes.org/. The online application is designed for new submissions of simple, single address locate requests. Requests are processed during regular business hours in the order they are received. Once processed, a confirmation will be sent to the email address or text number provided. Locate requests submitted after 3 p.m. or outside of business hours may be processed the next business day. Meet and Emergency locate requests cannot be submitted through this online application. The locate request may be voided without notice if insufficient or conflicting information is provided. Do not assume that a request has been processed until the confirmation email/text has been received.

B. REVISE EXISTING LOCATE REQUEST – Revisions to existing locate requests can be submitted online at bluestakes.org/. A revision is applicable to an existing locate request but does not change any of the information on it. Since nothing can change on the existing locate request, revisions submitted through this online application are processed immediately, even outside of regular business hours. This online application may be used for the following:

  • No Response Notice Notifies specified member facility operators to respond and/or mark their facilities within 4 business hours of notification when the excavator finds or suspects unmarked facilities within the excavation area described on their current locate request.
  • Update Extends dig time for another 21 calendar days. If the timeframe to update the locate request has passed, an option will be available to submit the same information as the original, but as a New locate request.
  • Re-Mark Refreshes markings that have been destroyed by weather or excavation. This does not extend dig time.
  • Cancel Cancels the locate request.
  • View Displays all locate request information, including marking instructions and legal dates.

For additional detail on No Response Notice, Update, and Re-Mark revision locate requests, please see section VI.

C. DUPLICATE LOCATE REQUEST – Duplicate locate requests may be submitted online at bluestakes.org/. The online application is designed for creating a locate request in your name that is a copy of another excavator’s locate request. For example, a subcontractor copying a general contractor’s locate request or a contractor copying a homeowner’s locate request. The locate request number and phone number listed on the original excavator’s locate request is needed to process the duplicate request. Duplicates are processed immediately, even outside of regular business hours.

D. HIGH VOLUME OF LOCATE REQUESTS – Blue Stakes offers an online Quick Ticket Entry (QTE) application for excavators who submit a high volume of requests. This application requires an online user account and completion of self-paced online training. If you are interested in this online locate request entry option and to sign up for the training, go to: org/remote-access.

VIII. GUIDELINES FOR CONTACTING BLUE STAKES

Whether online or by phone, Blue Stakes is required to obtain specific information concerning locate requests. Each question is important and provides member facility operators with the information needed to locate their facilities in a timely manner. Processing a locate request is easy if the excavator is prepared to answer all questions. Preparation is the key. Please ensure all necessary information is available before contacting Blue Stakes.

BLUE STAKES WILL NOT PROCESS THIRD PARTY LOCATE REQUESTS. Locate requests will be placed in the name of the caller or caller’s company only. If someone other than the caller or caller’s company, e.g. subcontractor is going to be performing the excavation, they also need to contact Blue Stakes and create a locate request in their name.

The following is a brief explanation of the information required:

LOCATE REQUEST INFORMATION

A. EXCAVATOR PHONE NUMBER – To enable Blue Stakes to easily access excavator information in its database using a phone number, please use the same phone number for you or your organization each time you request a locate. It is important that
the number provided is a valid number where you can be reached by member facility operators in case additional information is required to complete the locate request.
B. COMPANY INFORMATION – Company name and mailing address of the excavator is recorded and stored in a database. This database may be used periodically by Blue Stakes and member facility operators to notify excavators.

C. NAME AND PHONE NUMBER – The telephone number of the excavator is taken in case member facility operators require additional information. Member facility operators may also contact the excavator to set up appointments for “mark and standby” locations to protect highly sensitive underground facilities, or to clear the area.

D. E-MAIL ADDRESS AND SMS TEXT NUMBER – When available, Blue Stakes provides e-mail and mobile text information to member facility operators as an alternate means of contacting the excavator to clear the dig request. The e-mail address and text number can also be used to send a copy of the request to the excavator.

E. FIELD CONTACT – When possible, please provide the name and phone number of a contact person familiar with the excavation site. This will assist member facility operators if further information is required before locating their facilities.

F. WORK TYPE – The law requires that excavators list the type of work being done. Please be specific. For example, “install sewer lateral” is more helpful than “install pipe.”

  • TRENCHLESS – Information is taken to let member facility operators know if trenchless technology (e.g. directional boring) will be used to excavate under roads, driveways, sidewalks, etc.
  • BLASTING – Information is taken to let member facility operators know if explosives will be used for excavation.

G. CITY / COUNTY – Blue Stakes accepts locate requests for the entire state of Utah. If the excavation is in an unincorporated county area, please state that it is in the county along with the approximate mileage and direction from the closest city. It is important that the city and county information be correct to ensure that the proper member facility operators are notified.

H. EXCAVATION SITE ADDRESS – To ensure that all affected member facility operators can find the location of the dig site, Blue Stakes requires specific address information for identifying an excavation site. The given address must be posted.

The following are two examples of proper information when identifying the location of the excavation site:

  • 6990 S Redwood Rd
  • 621 to 653 S 2050 W

The best information is a street address. However, if a street address does not exist, the following information may also be used with directions to the dig site:

  • Nearest address or intersection.
  • Highway and milepost number.
  • Freeway and exit number.

The following is an example of proper information when identifying the location of the excavation site without an address in a rural area:

  • I-15 Exit 100 – From the southbound exit, travel west for 0.1 miles to the west frontage road. Then travel south for 0.75 miles. There is a white lathe with flagging on west side of road 20 ft. into property. Please mark a 10 ft. radius around this lathe.

Other information such as latitude / longitude coordinates and township, range, and section coordinates are helpful for requests in remote areas but cannot be accepted as the only form of address. See Section L below for information about latitude / longitude coordinates.

Because member facility operators vary from location to location, a separate locate request should be filed for each excavation site. Large areas can be covered by one request if the work is a continuous excavation, such as a long open trench. Long linear projects, such as road reconstruction, new pipelines, etc., should be split into separate locate requests at appropriate intervals, which will vary depending on the area where excavation is taking place.

I. SUBDIVISION / LOT NUMBER – In a new development, reference to subdivision, and lot number will help member facility operators identify the excavation area and prevent costly delays from shutdowns due to unmarked facilities. Please note, in a new development where addresses are not posted, it is the excavator’s responsibility to post the address or lot number in a visible location. Subdivision and lot number cannot be given as the only form of address.

J. LOCATION AND MARKING INSTRUCTIONS – It is important to narrow the area to be located by member facility operators to the precise area of excavation. Many times, the entire lot will be called in when excavation is only being done on one side of the property. The excavator must be able to provide as accurately as possible the location of the proposed excavation. Footage and compass direction from the intersecting streets, house numbers or landmarks are all essential in helping member facility operators find the excavation location. You may be able to further narrow the area to be located by pre- marking the excavation area with white paint, stakes, flags, or in another industry-accepted manner. Please pre-mark the area before notifying Blue Stakes.

NOTE: Utah State Law requires excavators to pre- mark the area of proposed excavation with white paint, stakes, or flags if the area of proposed excavation cannot be described with reasonable specificity. This includes intermittent dig sites, such as potholing, sign, or pole installation, etc. Please do not request long stretches or large areas to be marked when excavation will only take place in a few specific locations. See Guidelines for Excavation Delineation under Section XIV. for more information.

In identifying the excavation area, the following guidelines should be considered:

  • Right and left should not be used since they are relative points of view.
  • The area must have boundaries that are defined by footage and/or landmark. A request cannot say, “mark the shoulder of the road” or “mark the right-of-way.”
  • Larger areas may need to be split into multiple requests, especially along roads. Longer stretches may be permitted on a single request in rural areas, whereas excavation within developed areas should normally not exceed two (2) blocks per locate request.

Many lots are very large and are, therefore, difficult to mark. Instead of requesting entire lot, list the specific area to be marked. The following are explanations of important terms used by Blue Stakes. These terms should be used to describe the specific area of excavation:

  • LOT / PROPERTY: For Blue Stakes purposes, the front or frontage of the lot / property begins at the curb or edge of the road (pavement, oil, gravel, dirt, etc.) and extends into the property. For properties that have roads that border it on more than one side, each side begins at the curb or edge of the road and extends into the property that is bordered by a road. In most cases the rear and side boundaries of a property are apparent because of fences, landscaping, or other visual distinctions.
  • FRONT: From the middle of the house / property forward to the curb / edge of the road. If the property is bordered by more than one road, the Front is only on the side bordered by the road that the property is addressed off of.
  • REAR: From the middle of the house / property back to the rear property line.
  • SIDE: From the middle of the house / property out to the side property line.

If marking instructions are requested for specific distances into the front / frontage of the property (or into another side of the property that also borders a road), those measurements will begin at the curb / edge of the road. For example, “Mark 20 ft. into the front of the property”. This will measure from the curb / edge of the road and extend 20 ft. into the property, independent of how far the front lot line sits back from the edge of the road.

Here are a few additional examples of area descriptions for marking:

  • Mark the NW quarter of the property.
  • Mark from the north lot line into property 20 ft.
  • Mark a 20 ft. radius around the house.
  • Mark entire park strip.

All requests must provide a description of the area to be marked. Instructions to mark specific member facility operators (e.g. “mark the gas line only”) will not be accepted.

Additional information the excavator feels will be useful to member facility operators in fulfilling your locate request may also be added. For example, a description of the house, gate code, or information about availability by phone can also be noted.


Visit bluestakes.org/faqs/ for additional example diagrams of areas to be marked.

K. ROAD EXCAVATION – If excavation will take place in a road, marking instructions should include a specified distance or one of the following descriptions:

  • SHORT – from the curb to the middle of the street.
  • LONG – from curb to curb (edge of road to edge of road, not including the shoulder).
  • ENTIRE INTERSECTION – intersecting areas of crossing roads.
  • SHORT / LONG, ENTIRE INTERSECTION WITH PROPERTY DESCRIPTION – when excavation is proposed in both the street and the property, include side of road or both sides of the road and how far into the property you will be excavating rather than requesting entire front of property.

L. LATITUDE / LONGITUDE – Coordinates can be provided from a GPS unit in NAD83 or WGS84 format to identify a rural area or other location that does not have an address. The location must be pre-marked in the field and the excavator must also provide the township, range, section number, and approximate distance from an address, intersection, or highway mile marker. The excavator must be available to provide driving directions to a member facility operator if requested.

COMPLETED REQUEST DETAILS

LEGAL DATE / TIME – This is the exact time and date your locate request is valid. The excavator may begin excavating after all facility operators have responded. However, if any facility operators have failed to respond to the original request, an excavator is required to give a No Response Notice to Blue Stakes. Beginning work before the Legal Date / Time can result in forfeiture of the excavator’s rights and protection provided for under the Damage to Underground Utility Facilities Act.

EXPIRATION DATE / TIME (GOOD THRU) – All requests expire at 8 AM on the 21st calendar day from the date the request is processed. After the locate request Expiration Date / Time you are no longer legally covered to dig.

UPDATE BY DATE / TIME – If excavation will last longer than 21 calendar days, the locate request must be updated before the Update By Date / Time as shown on the locate request and no sooner than seven (7) calendar days prior to the Expiration Date on the locate request. The Update By Date / Time is three (3) business days before the Expiration Date / Time.

LOCATE REQUEST NUMBER – Each locate request will be assigned a reference number, which is called the Locate Request Assignment (LRA) or ticket number. This number should be used for future questions or problems associated with a locate request. Additionally, this number must be available on-site during all excavation to prove compliance with the state law requiring that you “call before you dig.” Please note that a fee may be charged if the number is lost and Blue Stakes has to research the request.

MEMBER FACILITY OPERATORS NOTIFIED – A list of the member facility operators notified on the locate request will be provided if the excavator requests an email or text confirmation of the ticket. This information can also be provided over the phone or viewed through other Blue Stakes online applications.

IX. WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE REQUEST IS MADE

Based on the address and description provided by the excavator, a shape outlining the extent of the dig site is drawn using the Blue Stakes computer mapping system. Each member facility operator company provides a shape for the mapping system outlining the extent of their underground utility line network, or the coverage area for which they want to be notified about excavation activity. If the dig site shape overlaps a member facility operator’s notification area shape, the Blue Stakes computer system will deliver the locate request notice to that member facility operator.

Each member facility operator that receives the locate request notice will analyze the address information and marking instructions, as specified by the excavator, to determine whether or not the excavation will conflict with their underground facilities.

If the excavation will not affect their lines, the member facility operator should notify the excavator that they have no underground facilities in the area. If the excavation will affect their underground facilities, the member facility operator will dispatch a field locator to locate and mark their underground facilities at the site. Each member facility owner is responsible to mark the underground facilities they own and maintain with paint, stakes and/or flags.

NOTE: In some cases, underground facilities belong to the owner of the property rather than to the facility operator. For example, the facility operator may own the pipe / cable up to a meter at the edge of the property. The pipe / cable from the meter to the house may belong to the homeowner. Member facility operators are not responsible to mark underground facilities they do not own or maintain.

X. RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE FACILITY OPERATOR

By 8 AM on the third business day after receiving notice from an excavator of a proposed excavation, member facility operators are required by law to physically mark their underground facilities; notify the excavator that the area of excavation is clear of their underground facilities; or notify the excavator that extenuating circumstances exist that require additional time to mark their underground facilities.
 
GUIDELINES FOR MARKING OF UNDERGROUND FACILITIES

Utah law requires facility operators to mark their underground facilities using as a guideline the Uniform Color Code and Marking Guidelines, published by the Common Ground Alliance. Refer to Section XIV. for these guidelines.

XI. RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE EXCAVATOR – AFTER CONTACTING BLUE STAKES

Many people believe that by notifying Blue Stakes of intended excavation they have completed all of their responsibilities with respect to the locating process.
This is not the case. Notifying Blue Stakes is only the first step; there are several other responsibilities which need to be considered:
 
A. AVAILABILITY – Excavators need to be available to answer questions from facility owners about the excavation project. Provide correct contact information and return calls and messages
promptly, especially on projects that are large or in a remote area.
 

B. SAFETY ZONE / TOLERANCE ZONE – After the markings have been made, excavators should maintain a minimum clearance within the Tolerance Zone which is: 24 inches on either side of the outside edge of the mark indicating a facility; a distance of one-half of the marked diameter plus 24 inches on either side of the designated center where a diameter of the facility has been marked; and 24 inches in each direction of the outside edge of a physically present above-ground facility.

If excavation is required within the Tolerance Zone horizontally of any marking or above-ground facility, the excavation should be performed with extreme care, utilizing hand tools or other methods designed to avoid damaging underground facilities, including vacuum excavation tool and air knife.
 
See Tolerance Zone under Section XIV. for more information.
 
C. EXPOSED / DAMAGED UTILITY – If, during the course of excavation, a facility has been exposed, it is the excavator’s responsibility to inspect and support
these facilities prior to backfilling. If damage of any kind is discovered or any suspicion of damage exists, it is the excavator’s responsibility to immediately notify the facility operator directly.
 
Excavators are also responsible by Utah State Law to immediately call 911 if damage to any utility may result in an immediate risk to human life.
 
D. FACILITY MARKINGS – Many excavators mistakenly believe Blue Stakes is responsible for the actual locating and marking of facilities. This is not the case. Blue Stakes takes information from the excavator and relays it to member facility operators. Each member facility operator is responsible for ensuring that their underground facilities are properly marked.
 
When a specific member facility operator indicates that they have no underground facilities in conflict on a locate request, the excavator must realize that this does not mean that Blue Stakes has cleared the site, nor does it mean that other underground facilities are not at that location. Excavators are encouraged to not begin excavation until all underground facilities have been located and marked or they have been notified by each facility operator that they are clear. This should also include underground facilities operated by facility operators not participating with Blue Stakes.
 
The law requires a No Response Notice to be submitted if the excavator suspects an unmarked facility. Excavators should plan their work to maintain the integrity of the markings.
 
NOTE: According to Utah Code 54-8a-6(2)(b)(ii), an excavator is liable for damage incurred if the damage occurs within 24 inches of the physical presence of an above-ground facility, including a manhole, meter, or junction box, whether marked or unmarked.
 

XII. ELECTRONIC POSITIVE RESPONSE (EPR)
WHAT IS ELECTRONIC POSITIVE RESPONSE?

Electronic Positive Response (EPR) is a system that encourages and facilitates communication from member facility operators back to Blue Stakes of Utah 811 regarding the status of each locate request, which is then made available to excavators. Utah State Law already requires that all facility operators respond to every locate request they receive by either marking the requested site or notifying the excavator that the site is clear of their facilities. EPR is the tracking system where member facility operators can indicate how they responded to the locate request. Blue Stakes then publishes these responses with the locate request and makes it available online 24×7 to professional excavators and homeowners.
 
WHY UTILIZE ELECTRONIC POSITIVE RESPONSE?
The EPR system facilitates the communication loop between the excavator and the member facility operators. The electronic responses are for informational purposes to assist the excavator in completing their excavation project. Some of the benefits that the EPR system can help with include:
• Easily identify which member facility operators have responded to the locate request
• Reduce downtime, wasted time, and duplication of effort
• Reduce frustration and miscommunication
• Reduce No Response Notice (NRSP)requests and other unneeded ticket revisions
• Reduce damages

Blue Stakes highly encourages every member facility operator to actively participate in providing electronic responses, but please note that submission of these responses by facility operators in Utah is still voluntary.

HOW TO UTILIZE ELECTRONIC POSITIVE RESPONSE?
Blue Stakes has made it easy to use the EPR system to look up electronic positive response information on specific locate requests, as well as obtain general information about the EPR codes and descriptions.
 
To view responses simply go online to bluestakes.org/EPR/. EPR responses may also be accessed by using the View Ticket Info link at the bottom of the email ticket confirmation.
 
A Blue Stakes Locate Specialist can direct inquiries to the online site but should not be used to look up the EPR responses on locate requests.
 
An EPR Confirmation email will also be automatically sent to the excavator either when the legal start date / time arrives or sooner, if all member facility owners listed on the locate request have responded through EPR. This email will provide the excavator with the participating member facility responses to the request for marking.
 
The submission of these responses by facility operators in Utah is still voluntary. For the safety of all, please respect and protect the marks, excavate carefully within the Tolerance Zone and submit a No Response Notice if any unmarked underground facilities are suspected.
 

XIII. REPORTING PROBLEMS

There are several problems that the excavator may encounter during the locating and marking process. Blue Stakes may assist in the resolution of these problems. The following are some of the more commonly experienced problems with a brief description of the proper channels to follow:
 
A. FAILURE TO MARK FACILITIES PRIOR TO START DATE – If the Legal date / time arrives and one or more member facility operators have failed to mark their facilities or notify you of no conflict, state law requires the excavator to submit a No Response Notice before commencing excavation.
 
B. CORRECTING ERRORS – At the time of your original request, please review the information for accuracy. If submitting a request over the phone, the Locate Specialist will verify all information given by the caller. Please listen carefully to this verification and make corrections as necessary. Blue Stakes verifies all information back to the caller to ensure all information recorded is correct. If the caller verifies incorrect information, the excavator is liable for any damages to unmarked underground utilities due to the incorrect information dispatched. Locate requests done online allow the excavator to fully verify and correct all information before submitting the request.
 
If, at any time, it is discovered that incorrect information was provided to Blue Stakes, the excavator should contact Blue Stakes as soon as possible, so we can assist you in making corrections. In most cases, a new request will be issued, and member facility operators will have three (3) business days from the time of the request to mark their underground facilities. Corrections will only be accepted from the excavator or excavator’s company that originated the ticket.
 
C. RESEARCHING LOCATE REQUESTS – Blue Stakes records all telephone conversations pertaining to
locate requests and maintains a copy of the locate request information, including the call recordings, for five (5) years. Blue Stakes can be of assistance in providing copies of these records in the case of a dispute. In some cases, there may be a fee involved for record retrieval. Excavators and member facility operators also have access to online tools to research their own locate requests.
 
Blue Stakes has various methods of searching for these records including online ticket search, which can be utilized by excavators directly.
 
The quickest method of obtaining a record is by referencing the locate request number assigned to the locate request. Records can also be found by using other information such as the date, the excavator, company, and the excavation location. The more information provided, the faster applicable records can be found.
 
For additional assistance, please email research@bluestakes.org.