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Chapter 8

8.4 Structured Education Programs

Practice Statement:

An effective damage prevention education program is structured to accommodate the needs of individual audiences.65

Practice Description:

Organizations that implement damage prevention programs need flexibility in selecting communication tactics based on demographics, damage events, effectiveness measurements, and other relevant factors. A wide range of methods and tools, including mailings, in-person meetings, events, mass media communications, educational videos, and electronic and social media, may be considered for damage prevention messaging. Examples for target audiences are provided below:

  • CONTRACTORS, ROAD BUILDERS, and EXCAVATORS—Local and national trade shows and state/local chapters of contractor trade associations may provide opportunities for outreach. Group meetings focused on damage prevention education conducted by vendors and 811 centers, as well as local utility coordinating committee (UCC) meetings, may also be valuable options for sharing damage prevention information. Consider education materials that are portable and suitable for a mobile workforce.
  • FARMERS and RANCHERS—Messages for this audience should focus on damage prevention during agricultural-related activities, such as fencing and tiling. Local agriculture extension offices and state/local chapters of agriculture trade associations may be helpful in promoting education and messaging. Local farm days and county/state fairs can provide opportunities for broader outreach.
  • SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS—Contacting 811 prior to any digging on school property is an important message for administrators. Arbor Day and Earth Day are natural opportunities to promote safe digging messages at schools. Boards of education and local parent/teacher organizations (PTOs) may also provide support and resources.
  • SCHOOL STUDENTS—Schools provide an opportunity to “grow” damage prevention awareness among younger audiences and their families. School education programs, offering a damage prevention curriculum and guest speakers, provide structured learning. Local scouting troops and student clubs focused on safety, environment, and civics may also provide opportunities for damage prevention education.
  • LOCATORS—Locator training programs sponsored by 811 centers, utility operators, or third-parties provide opportunities for damage prevention education. Locator trade associations and locator safety meetings may also be leveraged to provide outreach. Consider education materials that are portable and suitable for a mobile workforce.
  • PUBLIC OFFICIALS—Public officials can influence local damage prevention procedures in their communities. Focus messaging on suggestions for including 811 in local permitting requirements to keep communities safer. Tours of 811 centers and local utility facilities can also improve awareness among this audience.
  • EMERGENCY RESPONDERS—Outreach to emergency responders can leverage existing public awareness programs, such as meetings with local emergency planning committees (LEPCs), local associations of fire chiefs and sheriffs, and organized group meetings. Focus messages on 811 requirements and recognizing the signs of an un-ticketed excavation, such as a lack of flags, paint, or utility personnel at dig sites, to raise responder awareness of damage prevention in their communities.
  • GENERAL PUBLIC AND HOMEOWNERS—Homeowner/neighborhood association meetings provide opportunities for sharing the damage prevention message. Also consider attending and/or exhibiting at local home and garden shows. Social media messaging may also provide options for communication of damage prevention messages to this audience.
  • MEDIA—Promoting damage prevention through the media helps to broaden awareness. Events such as 811 Day, National Safe Digging month, and local planned events can be communicated through press releases, print, TV, and radio interviews. As appropriate, media tours of operator facilities may also be useful.
  • EQUIPMENT SUPPLIERS, DISTRIBUTORS, and RENTAL COMPANIES—Equipment points of sale or points of rental provide opportunities to educate potential excavators about 811 and damage prevention. It may be helpful to provide these companies with damage prevention brochures, 811 stickers for equipment, etc., to provide “just in time” reminders about the importance of calling 811 before digging.


  • Various 811 centers including AL, AZ, CO, CT, GA, ID, IL, IA, KY, MS, MO, NM, NY (City), NC, OK, OH, OR, TX, WV, and WI
  • Current industry materials, programs, and practices
  • National Land Improvement Contractors Association
  • American Petroleum Institute (API), Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), and American Gas Association (AGA) member companies
  • Industry associations including AGC chapters, NUCA, and National Telecommunications Damage Prevention Council (NTDPC)
  • Various contract locating firms
  • American Petroleum Institute (API) Recommended Practice (RP) 1162, “Public Awareness Programs for Pipeline Operators”

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