The Michigan Public Service Commission today said it has established a new complaint process under the updated MISS DIG Underground Facility Damage and Safety Act (Act), effective today. The Act also gives the MPSC new enforcement authority.
“Excavation damage is the leading cause of serious utility incidents that result in property damage, personal injuries and fatalities,” said MPSC Chairman John D. Quackenbush. “This update to Michigan’s 40-year-old law now formally puts in place the best safe digging practices to prevent damage to vital infrastructure and to prevent potential injuries or death. A simple call to 811 at least 72 hours before digging is all it takes to help keep utility service safe and reliable for all of us.”
Under the Act, sponsored by State Senator Mike Nofs:
Facility owners are now required to participate in a “positive response” program that puts in place a formal system that will allow the tracking of requests for marking facilities.
Excavators are required to expose all marked utilities in an 8-foot caution zone by hand. Power equipment can be used in the caution zone after exposing all marked facilities. Excavators must also provide support or bracing of utilities or excavation walls in an excavation or blasting area that are reasonably necessary for protection of utilities.
If parties with disputes are unable to come to a resolution, they may file a complaint under the Act, using the new form created for this purpose. The Michigan Public Service Commission has new enforcement authority that allows for a fine of not more than $5,000, under certain circumstances. And for the first time, municipalities will be liable for damage to underground facilities, under certain conditions, and will be subject to fines, plus training. Later this year, the MPSC will for the first time make available online information on the reporting and tracking of damages to underground facilities.
Dialing 811 in Michigan connects callers to MISS DIG, a statewide, one-call center for construction safety and utility damage prevention. Once a request is received, MISS DIG contacts local utility companies, according to the location where a caller plans to dig. Utilities will send representatives to mark the approximate location of underground lines with paint and/or staking flags within three working days. The service is free.
Governor Snyder has declared April as Safe Digging Month in Michigan to raise awareness of the importance of pipeline safety and other underground utility education in Michigan and throughout the U.S.
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