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Chapter 5

5.8 Positive Response

Practice Statement:

The underground facility owner/operator either 1) identifies for the excavator the facility’s tolerance zone at the work site by marking, flagging, or other acceptable methods; or 2) notifies the excavator that no conflict situation exists. This takes place after the one call center notifies the underground facility owner/operator of the planned excavation and within the time specified by state/provincial law.

Practice Description:

If a facility owner/operator determines that the excavation or demolition is not near any of its existing underground facilities, it notifies the excavator that no conflict exists and that the excavation or demolition area is “clear.” This notification by the facility owner/operator to the excavator may be provided in any reasonable manner including, but not limited to face-to-face communications; phone or phone message, facsimile or other electronic means; posting at the excavation or demolition area; or marking the excavation or demolition area. If an excavator has knowledge of the existence of an underground facility and has received an “all clear,” a prudent excavator will attempt to communicate that a conflict does indeed exist, and the locator will make marking these facilities a priority before excavation begins. Better communication between the excavator and the facility owner/operator is required as an area of excavation becomes more crowded with new underground facilities.

“Positive response” is a term used to describe the two types of action taken by a facility owner/operator after it receives notification of intent to excavate. The facility owner/operator must 1) mark its underground facilities with stakes, paint, or flags; or 2) notify the excavator that the facility owner/operator has no underground facilities in the area of excavation. This process allows the excavator to begin work in a timely manner.

When the excavator makes the request to the one call center, the excavator is told which facility owners/operators will be notified. The excavator logs these facilities on a job sheet and identifies which facility owner/operators have responded by marking and which have cleared the area. When a facility owner/operator does not respond by marking or clearing, it may indicate that the facility owner/operator did not receive a locate notice or that the one call center’s contact information for that facility owner/operator may be incorrect, incomplete, or corrupt (which could result in calamity). When the excavator has obtained all required information, the excavation can commence with confidence that the safety of the work crew and the public at large has been considered.


  • Existing state laws, including California, Maryland, Nevada, and others
  • Existing operating procedure for various one call centers (31 participating states or one call centers)

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