PUCO to enforce underground damage prevention laws beginning January 2016

Enforcement of Ohio’s underground protection laws begins on Jan. 1, 2016. Commercial excavators, utility operators, designers and developers who fail to follow safe digging practices may be subject to penalties and fines.

A new state law created the Underground Technical Committee (UTC) to increase public safety by ensuring that anyone excavating or operating underground facilities follows safe digging practices.

Beginning Jan.1, 2016, the UTC will review complaints regarding excavation violations, determine if a compliance failure occurred and recommend a course of action to the PUCO. The PUCO will enforce UTC recommendations.

The PUCO will invoice those required to pay a registration fee of up to $50 annually. Failure to register may result in a fine of up to $2,500. The OUPS and Ohio Oil & Gas Producers Underground Protection Service remain the primary contacts for Ohioans who are planning excavations.

Before any digging project, Ohioans must call 8-1-1 to have underground facilities marked. For more information about underground damage prevention, visit the PUCO website at www.PUCO.ohio.gov.