Many people just glance over the introductory Georgia 811 page and misinterpret it to say no locates are required if your not using mechanized digging equipment. One big issue many miss is the fact excavations are regulated not only by the Public Service Commission but also the Georgia Utility Facility Protection Act (GUFPA), enacted by the General Assembly in July 2000 which provides for the protection of the buried utility facility infrastructure within the State of Georgia and is updated regularly with latest changes made in 2020.  When digging all contractors and even homeowners are also regulated through the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the GPSC enforces minimum safety regulations for all jurisdictional intrastate gas pipelines in Georgia and the E.P.A. GASWCC Certified erosion training course is required for every contractor and their employees who disturb soil in any manner.  You don't hand a set of post hole diggers to an hourly hire and turn them loose anymore.

    Glance at the first paragraph on page one of the Georgia 811 site and you have missed well over 90% of rules and regulations your responsible to satisfy before you dig and we learned by cutting a few utilities, watching a few companies driven to bankruptcy by these rules and hiring legal counsel to review applicable both state and federal laws and regulations to excavation. We have four state plus two federal organizations we are responsible to know regulations, be properly trained and carry certification cards for some in the course of our daily work. A business that uses shovels or other tools that disturb the soil requires more than a strong back but a trained mind to legally operate in todays society. this protects your employees, company, customers and the public from mistakes that can cause harm, injury or disruption of utility services.

    If you complete a small project without a locate request or damage to an underground (overhead wires and guy wires are also protected if work within ten feet of either) utility then your fine, damage a utility and whether used manual tools or mechanized it all turns into a mess of repair bills and fines. Cut just a single wire pair feeding phone service to one house, cable t.v. line on a weekend when the after hours on-call staff have to leave home, get equipment and dispatch the repair bills can climb quite high and is not cheap during business hours. Under normal circumstances Utilities are subjest to these rules to locate utilities once a locate request is submitted. "If the Utility is unable to locate the facilities for extraordinary circumstances, the Utility shall notify the UPC, and also provide an estimated completion date.34 If the Utility fails to comply with the time provision of 48 hours for marking facilities, or if the Utility fails to comply with the requirement that notice of completion be given to the UPC, the UPC is required to issue a second request to the Utility." since covid 19 when we call 811 for UPC locates have a recorded message claiming "extraordinary circumstances" and to expect delays in locate ticket completion, we also get the same following hurricanes on the Gulf Coast and other disastors claiming all locators and utilities workers are behind. We have had locate orders on some occasions over past two years take up to a month to clear.

We have had legal service review all mentioned federal and state organizations regulations and definition of terms in a best faith effort to protect ourselves from worksite injuries, liability from damages to utilities along with protecting our clients and landowners of property. The term excavation is misleading as differs from agency to agency but found that the federal and Georgia state Department of Transportation definitions are an exact match in regard to where locates are required. "Excavating" shall not exceed the depth of 12 inches, and not exceed 18 inches in depth below the grade existing prior to activities whichever is less. We dig all our holes a minimum of two feet, constantly find ourselves making contact with various underground utilities shallow as a few inches so per the Georgia 811 Call Before You Dig websites recommendation we have all sites marked for underground utilities before we dig.

   Cut a gas service and you can cause your neighborhood to be evacuated while repairs are made or cut the Ma Bell fiber bundle taking all neighbors internet and phones off line many HOA/POAs have their own fine structure. We will provide real life examples but one of the largest golf and country clubs in Hall County all the Charter/Spectrum cable is buried less than two inches underground so just one push on a shovel can cut feed to your house or entire street. Cut the communications to a mall then every business affected can file a civil suit for lost income against you or worse have situation where someone needs 911 and their phone does not work because of damage you created for a huge civil court judgment. While the legal limit a utility can charge a contractor to repair a utility is $92,000 plus the $10,000 fine your still exposed to civil litigation from people and businesses loss of service especially if unable to do business due to service outage.

From Current Georgia 811 website:

"What type of digging activities should be called in?
   The law designates that anyone planning to use mechanized equipment for excavation, tunneling, grading, boring, blasting, demolition or similar work should contact Georgia 811. However, for safety’s sake, we recommend you call for any project in which you plan to break ground. Underground utilities can be damaged while individuals are installing mailboxes, building fences or decks, or even planting trees. Remember, even if your project is small, it’s always best to call!"

" is a strong hint that if do not get a locate and cause damage you better know what the fine print of regulations and case law interpretation from court system before you just go digging. Especially digging regularly without locate requests or if a business. A friends father called him confused when pulled his tractor mounted auger out of the ground to see over 100 feet of fiber bundle wrapped around his auger. He was just installing a mailbox and luckily escaped any fines as a first offense homeowner but paid over $8,000 in repairs plus no neighbors filed civil court cases from going over a day without phones, internet of television for many. Every road in Georgia is under the new Georgia High Speed Data Initiative to provide all homes with high speed internet so yes, there is a fiber bundle in front of your house. As a business that digs holes every day we are most likely going to be held to a higher standard of supposed to know that a locate was required.

What happens if I don’t call before I dig?
By not calling, you risk serious injury or even death, as well as property or environmental damage, explosion or fire and power or utilities services interruptions." Remember, even if your digging project is small, it’s always best to call!What kinds of

Digging projects should homeowners call about?

It’s a good idea to call about ANY type of outdoor digging project. Examples include:
• Landscaping
• Digging holes for fence posts or a mailbox
• Anchoring supports for decks and swings sets
• Planting trees
• Removing tree roots
• Driving landscaping stakes into the ground
• Installing a retainer wall

What is the law pertaining to excavators and contractors?

By law, anyone planning any mechanized digging or excavating work
in Georgia must notify Georgia 811 by phone, 811 or 1-800-282-7411 at least 48 hours (two business days) prior to the project’s start date. Excavators and contractors can enter digging notifications via our online locate request entry system, once trained. Georgia 811 accepts Monday thru Friday, excluding holidays, for normal locate requests. Damage and Emergency locate request may be called in 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For a complete list of the legal holidays, click here. For locate requests made after 4:30 p.m. are considered the next business day.

Below as you read many of the sections of code we quote from UPC commission regulations and Georgia Law even hand digging with a shovel or post hole diggers can be interpreted as excavation especially once a utility is damaged. We have cut many single wire pairs feeding a home, sprinkler lines, entrance lines for water and cable which we are equipped and licensed to repair. Natural Gas is not something we can fix and according to statistics the most cut utility. We closed down a main four lane road for over two hours after hitting a line on site we had three different areas marked and located but hit an abandoned gas line that was still pressurized. If not for getting dig locates I can name five sites that could have bankrupted us and no telling how many sites had we not known where utilities were located had injured or killed employees. Below is an excerpt from current regulations and clicking on link takes you to all rules but the bottom line is mechanized digging of hand digging if cause damage to a utility repair fees and retroactive fines all come into play. This page is long but well worth reading before you decide if betting your companies checkbook and trade licenses to some hourly employee digging holes without locates is worth the risk. It is not for us!!!


§ 25-9-13.  Penalties for violations of chapter; bonds; enforcement; advisory committee; dispose of settlement recommendations

( a) Any person who violates the requirements of subsection (a), (f), or (g) of Code Section 25-9-6 and whose subsequent excavating or blasting damages utility facilities or sewer laterals shall be strictly liable for  

(1) All costs incurred by the facility owner or operator in repairing or replacing its damaged facilities; and

(2) Any injury or damage to persons or property resulting from damaging the utility facilities and sewer laterals.(b) Each local governing authority is authorized to require by ordinance any bonds on utility contractors or on persons performing excavation or blasting within the public right of way or any dedicated utility easement as it may determine to assure compliance with subsection (a) of this Code section.(c) Any person who violates the requirements of Code Section 25-9-6 and whose subsequent excavating or blasting damages utility facilities or sewer laterals shall also indemnify the affected facility owner or operator against all claims or costs incurred, if any, for personal injury, property damage, or service interruptions resulting from damaging the utility facilities and sewer laterals. Such obligation to indemnify shall not apply to any county, city, town, or state agency except as permitted by law.(d) In addition to the other provisions of this Code section, a professional licensing board shall be authorized to suspend or revoke any professional or occupational license, certificate, or registration issued to a person pursuant to Title 43 whenever such person has repeatedly violated the requirements of Code Section 25-9-6 or 25-9-8.

Applicable Sections of UPC  "call Before You dig" That Apply to Everyone, Even Planting Some Pansies

Excavators are required to give 48 hours' notice7 to the Utilities Protection Center prior to beginning blasting or excavating with mechanized excavating equipment.8 The notices contemplated by the statute are called "locate requests."9 Locate Requests must:

(2) state the name, address, and telephone number of the person who will engage in the blasting or excavating;

(3) describe the type of blasting or excavating to be engaged in by the person; and

(1) describe the land upon which the contractor wishes to blast or excavate, and must do so "with sufficient particularity," as defined by policies developed by the UPC to enable the Utilities to determine the precise piece of land involved;

(4) designate the date upon which the blasting or excavating will commence.10

But reading further you find this:

"the excavator must exercise "reasonable care" necessary to protect the underground facility. GUFPA defines these reasonable measures to include: hand digging, post holing, soft digging, vacuum excavation methods, pneumatic hand tools, and other methods approved by the Utilities or other generally accepted methods.21 In instances of excavations taking place parallel to an existing underground facility, the excavator should expose the existing facility at intervals necessary to avoid damage.22"

So while a locate request is not required if using manual equipment, if in the course of digging any utility is damaged the person(s), company and others involved in the excavation and damage by paid subcontractor are responsible to pay for the damages. If the person who does the damage cannot pay then hiring company/person(s) and even the property owner can be held responsible to pay for the repairs as upheld in previous cases. Fines can be levied retroactively for not exercising "reasonable care" as obtaining a locate can be deemed part of reasonable care even if using manual equipment per above quoted regulations. In the late 1980s I cut a plastic gas line less than four inches deep in back yard of my home installing a bird feeder on a weekend and paid $3,000 in repair fees. The regulations were nowhere as strict then as now, locate was not required but because of the damage I was held financially responsible to pay what the gas company claimed was their cost to repair.. Now for the really important information regarding liability.

4. Liability of Violating Excavators

1. Strict Liability for Costs to Repair Utility Facilities and Damage to Persons and Property

If an excavator initiates a project without first calling the UPC to request a Locate of facilities with proper notice, and the excavator then damages an underground facility, that excavator "shall be strictly liable for": (1) any costs incurred by the Utility in repairing or replacing the damaged facility; and (2) any injury or damage to persons or property resulting from damage to the underground facility

This measure of damages is quite broad. The violating excavator is liable for any "cost incurred" by the owner or operator, and does not appear to be subject to any "reasonableness" limitation. In other words, it appears that whatever the Utility claims to have been required to do to repair the facility is the actual measure of damages awarded to the Utility. In short, the Utility only needs to provide evidence of its actual "costs" without regard to the reasonableness of those costs.46

The violating excavator also must indemnify the Utility from any injuries or damages to persons or property resulting from the damage to the underground facility.47 Again, the language in this provision is quite broad, and provides neither a limitation on the damages nor a requirement that the Utility mitigate its damages in any way.

2. Indemnity for Service Interruptions

The civil damages do not end there. An excavator must also indemnify the Utility against all claims for personal injury, property damage, or service interruptions resulting from the damage to the facilities.
48 However, the General Assembly was careful not to waive the availability of sovereign immunity, as the obligation to indemnify does not extend to counties, cities, towns, or state agencies "to the extent permitted by law."49

3. Professional Penalties

Professional penalties are also available. The State Examining Board is authorized to suspend or revoke any professional or occupational license, certificate, or registration issued to a person who violates the "call first" provisions of O.C.G.A. § 25-9-6, or the "reasonable care" provisions of O.C.G.A § 25-9-8.

5. Public Service Commission Jurisdiction

The Public Service Commission shall enforce the provisions of GUFPA and may promulgate any rules and regulations necessary to implement and enforce it.
51 However, the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission "shall not prevent nor preempt the right of any party to obtain civil damages for personal injury or property damage in private causes of action." 

 This type wording in multiple areas of the UPC codes leaves room for civil suits from all customers of a utility who lose service then have lost revenue to sue responsible parties for their lost income. Even worse would be someone in dire need of 911 right after a sign vendor had cut a phone line and they could not get the police or ambulance to the scene of an emergency resulting in loss of life.  this is real, we have had lawyers review the regulations and tell us if dig without a locate we risk ourselves, our clients and their clients to not only monetary loss but even loss of business licenses and even criminal charges in addition to civil charges if a pattern of not following the regulations can be shown in court.

From Senate Bill 117    (Became O.C.G.A. TITLE 25 Chapter 9)

"(b) When excavating or blasting is to take place within the tolerance zone, the excavator shall exercise such reasonable care as may be necessary for the protection of the utility facility or sewer lateral, including permanent markers and paint placed to designate utility facilities. This protection shall include, but may not be limited to, at least one of the following based on geographical and climate conditions: hand digging, post holing, soft digging, vacuum excavation methods, pneumatic hand tools, or other technical methods that may be developed. Other mechanical methods may be used with the approval of the facility owner or operator,"

  Above was interpreted by legal counsel that even using hand tools unless we know where all utilities are located for their protecition they must be marked to designate their location.  We have determined from having multiple attorneys review original UPC dig regulations and amendments once someththing is damaged if we did not get a locate request it does not matter if we used a tea spoon to carefully dig a hole and have been advised to protect ourselves from fines and litigation along with our clients to get our locate requests approved bbefore digging.



   Efforts to prevent damage to buried utilities in Georgia stem from the requirements of the Georgia Utility Facility Protection Act of 2000 which assigns responsibility for enforcement to the Georgia Public Service Commission. Facilities Protection is one of the few areas where Commission jurisdiction extends beyond the electric, telephone and natural gas industries. The PSC is responsible for enforcing the Call Before You Dig laws forall utility facilities. During 2020, system owners and operators reported 4,196 incidents where facilities were damaged. Over 50% of the damages were to natural gas lines, while the remaining damages were to non-gas facilities.

   Staff investigated 6,750 incidents for alleged violations of the GUFPA law. The enforcement actions in 2020 included mailing 219 hearing notices, 802 consent agreements, and 339 final orders. The Commission’s Hearing Officer heard nocases in 2020 due to the pandemic. Of the 5,117cases closed, 2,191 related to damaged natural gas lines. These cases concluded with the Commission’s levying $7,738,360 in civil penalties.

Georgia Utility Facility Protection Act (GUFPA) Website




   The above middle and right photos are of a sign we submitted a dig order and two weeks later did not have an approval to dig as was not marked with UPC blaming covid 18 as reason. Our clients client was getting very upset about no sign on his property so we carefully installed the sign and waiting six weeks got order to remove and it had just been marked. If notice yellow lines run right up against rear two poles and yellow is gas. When we removed the posts carefully examined the rear holes using a yard stick to move dirt around to realize we had missed the gas line by under two inches. There was actually yellow paint on the pole which was closest to the gas line, I don't like risking my employees or my own life or your company to rush a job that has not been marked.

  The above right photo is from a site we worked and soon after leaving the box laying on ground serving the only U-Verse customer in the development connection shorted out.  Reason for disruption of service was the wire from this box going to edge of customers yard was rolled across top of ground and never buried. (77 lot subdivision with only three homes built) When we pulled truck off road to work we drove across the non buried wire which U-Verse did not locate because of only one client served and chose to take the risk. We had a UPC locate ticket cleared to dig but Ma Bell tried to blame us for the customers outage and cost of repairs. Our sign was placed over thirty feet from this connection and while we were able to prove our work did not cause the issue it took up over a full days time meeting techs and supervisors on site and multiple emails and phone calls over the course of over a week. This is part of the service we provide when we take on your installation but cannot protect ourselves or your company if did not follow the rules and have the site located.










Phone: 770-535-SIGN (7446)  emails will often be returned faster than phone messages

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212, Gainesville, GA 30503

Physical Address: 1436 Hudgins Street, Gainesville GA 30504  OPEN BY APPOINTMENT ONLY