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National Safe Digging Month – April 2023

Every year, National Safe Digging Month is observed throughout April. The day was established to urge all Common Ground Alliance (C.G.A.) stakeholders to promote the safe digging message in a coordinated manner during a critical month when digging activity begins across the country. Throughout the month, initiatives and activities are held across the country to promote safe digging to the general public and experts. According to the Common Ground Alliance, over 20 million miles of subterranean utilities in the United States can be destroyed by unsafe digging.

History of National Safe Digging Month

National Safe Digging Month was established in 2008 as a strategy to encourage all Common Ground Alliance (C.G.A.) stakeholders to promote the safe digging message in a coordinated manner during a critical month when digging activity begins across the country. The C.G.A. was established in 2000 with the goal of saving lives and reducing damage to America’s subsurface infrastructure by promoting effective damage prevention measures.

For a variety of reasons, humans construct holes, trenches, and other underground structures. We have long been known to have a nearly instinctive desire to dig holes in the ground, which begins in childhood. Later on in our lives, we dig the ground for food and water. Wood-lined water wells have been discovered in the early Neolithic Linear Pottery culture, such as in Kückhoven (5090 B.C.) and Eythra (5200 B.C.) in Schletz, Austria. The first archaeological excavation occurred in the sixth century B.C., when Nabonidus, King of Babylon, unearthed a thousand-year-old temple floor.

During the early Roman period, Julius Caesar’s forces took metal objects, and by the medieval period, Europeans were digging up pots that had partially emerged from erosion and weapons that had appeared on farmlands. Although humans are capable of digging with their bare hands, digging using tools is usually more convenient. The shovel is the most fundamental digging tool. In the Neolithic era and earlier, the shoulder blade of a large animal was frequently used as a primitive shovel. Nowadays, shovels are typically made of metal with a wooden handle.

National Safe Digging Month timeline

1750 B.C.
A Wooden Shovel Discovery

A wooden shovel is discovered in the Cheshire copper mines of Alderley Edge.

1900
The Second Industrial Revolution

During the Second Industrial Revolution, the shovel gives way to heavier machinery such as excavators.

2000
The Common Ground Alliance

The Common Ground Alliance is founded to save lives and reduce underground utility damage.

2008
National Safe Digging Month

National Safe Digging Month is established as a strategy to urge all C.G.A. members to dig safely.

National Safe Digging Month FAQs

What is the danger associated with digging?

The risk involved with this type of operation is the speed of an excavation collapse.

What is the most effective digging tool?

The flat-edged blade of a spade is ideal for cutting through roots or thick soil.

Is digging easier on wet ground?

The answer is no, as digging becomes more difficult when the soil is wet.

How to Observe National Safe Digging Month

  1. Share via your socials

    Social media is the fastest way to disseminate information. Spread awareness on the importance of safe digging by using the hashtags #NationalSafeDiggingMonth to spread the information and remind others how vital safe digging is.

  2. Contact 811 before digging

    Before you dig, dial 811. It may seem like an inconvenient step to complete before digging, but keep in mind that these rules are in place for a purpose. If you don't call before you dig, you could end up in serious trouble.

  3. Visit the Common Ground Alliance website

    Before you commence digging, visit the C.G.A. website for information. On the website, you will find 811 campaigns, digging guidelines, and educational videos to help you get the beat out of your digging activities safely.

5 Interesting Facts About Digging

  1. Pipeline accidents

    The most common cause of pipeline accidents is unauthorized digging.

  2. Equivalent to a football field

    In the United States, there is over a football field's worth of subsurface utilities per person.

  3. Twenty-million miles of underground utilities

    According to the Common Ground Alliance, there are about 20 million miles of underground utilities in the United States.

  4. Eight flags for underground utilities

    There are eight distinct flag colors representing underground utilities like electricity, water, and so on.

  5. Underground utility damage occurs every nine minutes

    An underground utility wire is broken every nine minutes due to inappropriate digging.

Why National Safe Digging Month is Important

  1. It promotes safety

    Thousands of buried facilities are damaged every year as a result of digging activities. Nearly all services are disrupted, and some occurrences result in substantial environmental damage, serious injury, and even death. The holiday serves as a reminder to homeowners and contractors that they must call before beginning any excavation work to ensure their safety.

  2. It protects underground utilities and crucial services

    Safe digging is necessary all year to ensure the safety of persons who work or live near subsurface facilities. It also protects crucial services that affect the day-to-day life of people.

  3. It prevents unnecessary costs

    When it comes to excavating safely, health and safety must always come first. Improper digging results in underground assets being damaged and requiring repairs. National safe digging month creates avenues to prevent incurring indirect costs and lost business to local businesses.

National Safe Digging Month dates

YearDateDay
2023April 1Saturday
2024April 1Monday
2025April 1Tuesday
2026April 1Wednesday
2027April 1Thursday
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