Do You Know the One Call Law?

As an excavator, are you familiar with your One Call responsibilities and obligations?

The state One Call Centers are designed to foster communication, cooperation, and co-ordination between those who dig (excavators) and those who own or operate underground
utility lines (facility owners). Each state has supporting legislation that defines the responsibilities and obligations of excavators, facility owners, and other stakeholders who have an interest in protecting underground facilities from damage and an interest in keeping workers and the general public safe from injury.

If you are an excavator, do you know your state’s One Call law? Do you know your obligations and responsibilities? Are you aware of the time-frames for excavation? Do you know what to look for in the temporary markings after a facility owner has visited your job site? Do you know how to verify that all facility owners near your job site have responded? More importantly, if you perform excavation work in more than one state, do you know the differences between your obligations and responsibilities from one state to the next?


“Bob” is a hypothetical excavator whose business is located in Ohioville, PA, near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. Because of this, he bids on jobs and performs excavation work in both Pennsylvania and Ohio. Here are three examples of differences between Pennsylvania’s 73 P. S. § 176 et. seq. (the “PA One Call law”) and Ohio’s Revised Code Sections 3781.25, 153.64 and 4905.2 (collectively, the “OH One Call Law”) that directly affect Bob’s obligations and responsibilities:

1. Notification.  Ohio requires 48 hours notice of intent to excavate, while Pennsylvania
requires three business days. What does this mean to Bob? Let’s speculate that Bob wins
a job to perform some excavation work on Calcutta-Smith Ferry Road in Ohioville, and the
excavation site straddles the PA-OH border. If Bob calls the PA ticket and the OH ticket at 9:00
a.m. on Monday, he can start work at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday for the Ohio portion of the work, but must wait until Thursday to begin the Pennsylvania portion of the work.

If Bob calls at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, he can begin work at 9:00 a.m. the following Tuesday on the
Ohio portion of the job but must wait until Thursday to begin the Pennsylvania portion of the job.

2. Marking Standards.  Ohio uses the Ohio Marking standards, developed with the Ohio Utilities Protection Service and its stakeholders, while Pennsylvania uses the marking standards described in Appendix B of the CGA Best Practices guide. What does this mean to Bob?

Both standards follow APWA Uniform Color Code ANSI Z535.1 standard safety colors. Differences occur with material type. For example, a plastic pipe may be marked “PLA” in
Pennsylvania and “PL” in Ohio. This means that an underground facility that passes across state lines may have different temporary markings depending on where the markings are located.

Ohio marking standards can be found at Pennsylvania (CGA) marking standards can be found at

3. Positive Response . Both Ohio and Pennsylvania support positive response, where the
facility owner tells the One Call Center the disposition of each ticket. This means before Bob begins excavation work, he can know which facility owners near the excavation site have marked their underground facilities and which have indicated that their underground
facilities are not involved. This helps keep Bob safe because he can compare the list of responses to the list of utilities on the ticket and cross-check that every utility has marked their underground facilities or indicated clear.

There is, however, a difference in the implementation of positive response between Ohio and Pennsylvania. In Ohio, Bob can ask for the responses from the One Call Center with a smart-phone app, by visiting the website, or by calling. In other words, Bob initiates a request for the responses. In Pennsylvania, Bob will receive an email (or fax) on the morning of the scheduled excavation indicating the disposition of each utility company listed on the ticket.

These are three seemingly small but significant differences in the obligations and respons-ibilities of an excavator who may perform excavation work in more than one state. It is Bob’s
responsibility to be aware of these differences in order to work safely in each state. If Bob has
questions, he should contact the One Call Center for information, training, or to talk to a representative about his obligations and responsibilities to keep himself, his crew, and the underground facilities he works near safe.

Dan Lucarelli is the Director – Marketing & Education for Pennsylvania One Call System, Inc. He can be reached at Lee Richards is the Public Awareness & Education Supervisor for the Ohio Utilities Protection Service. She can be reached at

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