Excavator Responsibility

Below is a summary of the responsibility of excavators in Minnesota for damage prevention and One Call processes.  For a complete listing of all excavator responsibility, please review Minnesota State Statute 216D here.

Notifying GSOC

Excavators, including homeowners alike, throughout Minnesota are responsible for notifying GSOC of their proposed excavations so that GSOC can notify participating facility operators with underground facilities in proximity to the proposed excavation site.  Excavators can communicate with Gopher State One Call in two different methods: by clicking here to visit the GSOC website and submit a ticket, or by calling 811 and speaking to a GSOC representative.

GSOC reminds you that anyone excavating in Minnesota must have their own one call ticket. If you are a sub-contractor and you are excavating protect yourself and your company by obtaining your own one-call ticket. The general contractor’s ticket does not necessarily apply to anyone except them.

If you are a contractor doing work for a homeowner, it is your responsibility (NOT the homeowners) to contact GSOC and obtain a one call ticket. Do not put this burden on the homeowner. Planning for your excavation GSOC wants you as the excavator to have a very safe and successful excavation process. We suggest that you break your excavation down into multiple tickets if that makes it easier either for you to describe the work, or for the locator to find your excavation site. For example, we would suggest you follow the following guidelines:

  • Always use white markings to define the entire area where your excavation will occur. Include an area of safety margin within the area delineated by white markings. If after you start digging you determine that your excavation will need to move beyond the original white paint area, submit a new ticket for the expanded area.
  • Limit your ticket to a contiguous dig area. We recognize it may be faster to try to include two different dig areas on one ticket, but it makes a more difficult job for the locator. We suggest even if the projects are related or part of the same job, break them down into separate tickets.
  • Use common sense when defining your excavation area. Even if it is a contiguous single project, a ticket covering 10 miles, or 250 trees, or 200 signposts is not a good idea. You want to help the facility operator know where you will be digging. Make the job easier by using white markings and breaking down the work area into parts that will be more understandable. Also, think about the facility operator’s work schedule as well. If the work will happen in stages, stage your tickets so that your marks will be fresh when you enter an area.
  • Remember you can contact GSOC up to 14 calendar days in advance.


Preparing for an Excavation

1. Prepare the information for your excavation site prior to beginning the process to submit a locate ticket. While completing the locate ticket, you will be required to give detailed directions to the excavation site - driving directions are best - and marking instructions for the specific area where locates are needed.
2. You are required to use white markings for indicating the area of proposed excavations unless it can be shown that is not practical.
3. Not less than two full business days before excavating, you must contact the GSOC to provide information necessary to complete a locate ticket. You may contact GSOC up to 14 calendar days prior to commencing excavation to provide facility operators additional time to mark the area of proposed excavation.
4. When your locate ticket is complete, you will be given a ticket number and a list of facility operators with underground facilities in proximity to your excavation site. It is recommended that you write down your ticket number and the facility operators/contract locators so you are able to track which facility owners have responded to your one-call request. GSOC recommends you use Search Ticket Status to print your ticket.
5. If you fail to provide GSOC with the required information, GSOC may reject your request until you obtain complete information. To prevent this, please plan ahead.


Always Check the Status Before You Dig

Many people believe that by notifying GSOC of intended excavation they have completed all of their responsibilities in the one-call process. This is not the case, notifying GSOC is only the first step.
First, carefully review your E-Ticket to make sure it is correct. Pay particular attention to similar sounding street names. Contact GSOC immediately if there are any discrepancies. Next, review the list of facility operators notified by GSOC and compare it to a physical inspection of the area (including the surrounding area).


Search & Status

Excavators can check on the status of tickets to see if there is no conflict within their dig-site. To check the status of tickets, do the following:
1. Go to www.gopherstateonecall.org.
2. On the center green bar, you will find a Search, Search Ticket Status and Info button. Click on that Search button.
3. You may search by a specific ticket number or by other search criteria including caller, and dig site information among others. If evidence of any other underground facility is discernable, contact GSOC immediately.


Excavating within a Tolerance Zone

Excavators are required to maintain a minimum horizontal (side to side) clearance of two feet (24") between an unexposed facility and the cutting edge or point of any power operated excavating or earth-moving equipment. For example: if the markings indicate a 6" pipe is buried, the hand dig zone is 54" wide (24" + 6" + 24"). If the excavation is required within the hand dig zone, the excavation must be performed very carefully with vacuum excavation or hand tools and without damage to the facility or undermining of lateral support.
Excavators are reminded that a facility depth may vary due to installation practices, changes in grade, frost, erosion and other variables. Therefore, any depth readings given by a locator, if given at all, are only an estimation of the depth of the facilities, and the excavator is still responsible to safely expose the facility without damage.


Hand Dig with Care

Minnesota Law requires the use of hand tools (or vacuum excavation) when excavation will take place within 2 feet (24 inches) on either side of a marked underground facility. Gopher State One Call reminds you to use care when you are digging within this “hand-dig tolerance zone.” Respect the marks to protect yourself and the underground lines’ integrity. GSOC takes any and all locate requests from excavators who plan on using hand tools. Detailed information regarding hand excavation for professional and casual excavators alike is available at www.gopherstateonecall.org.

GSOC also advises you that although hand tools are exempt from the requirement to contact GSOC before you dig, in some circumstances it may be safer for you to have underground facilities marked when using hand tools. Hand tools may pose a threat to you, others and underground facilities. Therefore, contact GSOC and submit an excavation request any time you are unsure of the location of underground facilities or where the nature of your work may put them in danger.


Conducting an Excavation

While working at the excavation site, have your locate ticket and information with you.

During the course of digging it is the excavator’s responsibility to inspect and support all facilities that have been exposed. The excavator also must inspect facilities for any damage which could have accidentally occurred. This damage could include the pulling or kinking of the facility or damage to the protective coating or covering. If damage occurs, it is the excavator’s responsibility to immediately notify the facility owner directly. If during your excavation the excavation equipment comes in physical contact with an underground facility, even if there is no noticeable damage, you must stop excavation and contact the facility owner.

The excavator is responsible for reasonably protecting and preserving locate markings until no longer required for proper and safe excavation near the underground facility. If the excavator has reason to believe locate markings are obliterated, obscured, missing or incorrect, the excavator shall notify the facility operator or GSOC in order to have an operator verify, refresh or remark the locate. It is important that all facilities be marked prior to digging.


Emergency Excavations

An emergency is defined by Minnesota State Statute 216D.01, subdivision 3 as “a condition that poses clear and immediate danger to life health or significant loss of property.” Please note that work-scheduling problems or customer demands are not considered an emergency. GSOC reminds you to call 911 whenever there is a release of flammable, toxic or corrosive gas or liquid, or if a dangerous situation has been created.
Examples of emergencies:

  • An unforeseen excavation necessary in order to prevent a condition that poses clear and immediate danger to life or health.
  • An excavation required to repair a service outage.
  • An excavation required in order to prevent significant and immediate property damage.
  • The repair of an existing unstable condition which may result in an emergency. Emergency locates should be given top priority by utilities. Upon receiving an emergency notice the owner/operator of that facility shall contact the excavator within one hour by telephone and if required to visit the job site, locate and mark within three hours.

The Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety has requested that Gopher State One Call remind excavators that anyone inappropriately claiming an emergency may be considered in violation of Minnesota Statute Chapter 216D subject to the penalties of 216D.08.


Correcting Errors

Log on to www.gopherstateonecall.org to update GSOC tickets immediately to correct errors or to correct any information on a ticket. You can also call and GSOC will assist in making corrections, depending on the circumstances. Corrections will only be accepted from the caller working for the same company from which the ticket originated. In other words, a sub-contractor may not change information on a ticket filed by a general contractor.


Abandoned Facilities

Facility owners are required to maintain maps, drawings, diagrams or other records of any underground facility abandoned or out-of-service. It is the facility owner’s responsibility to give the excavator any known information about the abandoned facilities location.

If the facility owner notifies the excavator at the job site that abandon facilities exist. the above symbol should be used, either painted on the ground or on a locate flag.

The capital A inside a circle represents abandoned facilities.

The symbol should be painted or put on a flag in the same APWA color as is required for marking the underground facilities. For example, if this symbol were found on a yellow flag it would represent an abandoned gas, oil, or steam line.

Even though the facility may be abandoned it remains the property of the underground facility operator. As an excavator, you may not remove that abandoned facility from the ground without prior permission from the facility operator.

When notified of abandoned facilities existing in your proposed work site, gather as much knowledge and information as you can about the abandoned facility, (i.e. type, size, color, material, location, and possible depth).