Call Before You Dig: It’s The Law in Ohio and Enforcement Begins January 1, 2016

On January 1, 2016, the enforcement provisions of Ohio’s call before you dig law take effect. Everyone who digs, including private land owners, must contact the Ohio Utility Protection Service (OUPS: call 811 or 1-800-362-2764) to get a dig ticket. Commercial excavators, such as archaeologists working in the private or public sectors, including academia, can use i-dig, and private landowners can use e-dig, to obtain a dig ticket at By law, everyone must contact OUPS at least 48 hours but no more than 10 working days (excluding weekends and legal holidays) before digging. Digging means penetrating the ground with any hand-held or mechanical tool to any depth for any reason.

Ohio’s Public Utilities Commission (PUCO) will enforce the law, aided by the Underground Technical Committee (UTC). Fines and other penalties will be assessed for non-compliance by the PUCO and the UTC. Every commercial excavation entity, not private landowners, will also need to register with OUPS and the PUCO, and pay a nominal registration fee, up to $50, annually. You will register the first time you request a dig ticket from OUPS.

The goal of Ohio’s call before you dig law is to make every excavation safe. It is not meant to punish excavators, but steep fines can be imposed for persistent and willful non-compliers. The Ohio Archaeological Council wants all archaeologists digging in Ohio to dig safely and comply with the law. The reputation of our industry with our clients, employers, peers, government officials, and the public is at stake.

Al Tonetti (614-310-3547, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) is representing the interests of Ohio Archaeological Council members on the Ohio Utility Damage Prevention Coalition (OUDPC), the group of industry representatives who drafted the enforcement provisions of the law. The OUDPC will meet again in the summer of 2016 to assess how enforcement is going and address any concerns. If you have any concerns, complaints, etc., about Ohio’s call before you dig process or its enforcement, please contact Al Tonetti so that the archaeological community’s voice can be heard when it matters most.

A final recommendation. Assuming you have contacted OUPS before you dig, document the condition of your excavation site before, during, and after your excavation is completed with photographs and/or video, paying particular attention to any markings made by utility locators. If a request for inquiry/complaint is filed against you, images of the excavation site will be important evidence in resolving the matter in your favor. They will also be important if you file a request for inquiry against a utility locator, etc.

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