Page 13 - Alabama 811 Magazine 2022 Issue 2
P. 13

hoose Wisely!
By Roger Cox President ACTS Now, Inc.
Should you be held accountable when you excavate around a water line without contacting 811? Or is it only
a violation when you excavate around a gas line without contacting 811? If a damage does not occur in either case, then what makes it a violation? Is
it excavating without a ticket or is
it excavating without a ticket in the vicinity of a gas line? Obviously,
the same is true when discussing locating your underground facility.
The excavator should have the same expectation for the locate marks for a communication line as he does for a gas line. It should be marked within the time frame and within the tolerance zone outlined in the Dig Law.
As the result of the questions above many states are now amending their Dig Laws to provide enforcement provisions for violations of the Dig Law without respect for the utility type. The thinking is by requiring all stakeholders (regardless of utility type) to abide by the state’s Dig Law, it will strengthen their damage prevention program and improve pipeline safety by focusing on enforcing public safety and minimizing disruptions to the vital underground utilities that we’ve learned to rely on.
Enforcement has long had a crucial role to play in the criminal and civil justice
systems of our society; therefore, there must be ways to enforce the rules.
Imagine if there were no means of collecting property taxes, child support debts or enforcing traffic laws, such as speeding or driving under the influence. People ordered to pay a court judgment, civil penalties, and compensation awards, or to comply with the terms of a community sentence, will have little or no incentive to do so if they know there is no effective means of enforcing it. Unless there is prompt and effective enforcement, penalties and public confidence in the justice system will be undermined.
It only seems logical and reasonable that stakeholders, concerned for the best interests of our citizens would find a way to develop a similar standard
by protecting all our underground infrastructure. It should be easier than it is, but it can be done and when it is done, it will be because we’re able to put aside our personal agendas and commit ourselves to changing stakeholders’ behaviors and minimizing damages through education and if necessary, enforcement.
I’m confident that all of you in this industry remember the nine elements of effective damage prevention programs as outlined in the 2006 PIPES Act.
Element number (7) seven, “Fair and consistent enforcement of the law,” has identified in part these characteristics of good enforcement programs:
Enforcement is applied consistently.
Enforcement is seen as fair and equitable to all stakeholders.
The enforcement process is accountable to ensure its credibility.
The enforcement program is transparent to all stakeholders.
Application of the appropriate level
of enforcement is based on a number
of things including: the severity of the violations, the significance of the events, past behavior of the at-fault parties and their willingness to change behavior.
Don’t you think it’s about time for accountability to be part of the formula for damage prevention? We need for those of you who try to get it right
to be heard. There’s probably never been a better time to embrace the ten most powerful two-letter words in the universe: “If it is to be it is up to me.” You have the ability to make it happen and you have the ability to stop it from happening...
Your move... Choose wisely!
2022, Issue 2 Alabama 811 • 11

   11   12   13   14   15