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Excavator's Guide

Utility Color Code (Print Section)

Locate Request Checklist (Print Section)

Introduction (Print Section)


Legal holidays do not count as a working day and are determined by Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 995


The contents of this manual are subject to change without notice.

When to File a Locate Request (Print Section)

Anytime the soil is disturbed in Wisconsin, Diggers Hotline needs to be given at least three business days advanced notice. This is mandated by Wisconsin Statute 182.0175, which can be referenced in the back of this manual. Each contractor working at an excavation site needs their own locate request.


Diggers Hotline may also be used by persons planning excavation to fulfill their legal obligations.

Contacting Diggers Hotline (Print Section)

By Phone: All types of locate requests are accepted by Diggers Hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year by calling the three-digit code 811 or by calling (800) 242-8511.

TDD users may call (800) 542-2289.


File Online: On the Diggers Hotline website, www.DiggersHotline.com, you can submit locate requests. Our staff will finish the locate request by mapping the jobsite, and then you will receive an email with your ticket number and your start date and time.


ProPortal: Diggers Hotline allows users to file locates directly into the system with the new ProPortal system. Users file complete locate requests themselves, including relocates. See more information about the ProPortal at www.DiggersHotline.com.

Types of Locate Requests (Print Section)

Diggers Hotline accepts many types of locate requests. In general, locate request start times will be between business hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.



Excavation calls are the most common. There are several variations to the standard excavation call, each of which has an impact on the start date and time, and each of which can be used to solve unique situations or problems.


Standard: A locate request for a new excavation. The legal start date and time is at least three business days after the locate request has been processed. In general, one locate request will be required for each address or location where excavation will occur.


Emergency: An emergency locate request may be requested when excavation must begin prior to the standard three business days.


An emergency exists only when one or more of the following conditions exist:

  • The unforeseen excavation, which, if not performed, could result in the loss of life or limb.
  • The excavation is required to repair the outage of an existing service.
  • Excavation is required prior to three business days in order to prevent property damage.
  • An unstable condition exists which may result in any of the conditions listed above (for example, a leak in any service or main, or a fault in a primary or secondary wire and/or cable).
  • FOR FACILITY OWNERS ONLY: Immediate excavation is required by the facility owner to move, abandon, or cut off any facilities due to receiving less than three business days notice from a contractor.

When filing an emergency locate request, indicate that an emergency situation exists and be prepared to explain which of the above conditions is in effect. Diggers Hotline will prepare the ticket for immediate transmission and issue a start date equal to the time the excavation is scheduled to commence. However, all utilities must respond before you are legally cleared to dig.


Most Emergency Tickets show a start date and time one hour from the time the locate request is filed. Other Emergency Tickets show a start date and time that matches when the excavation is scheduled to begin. In both cases, the excavator is not cleared for excavation until all member utilities have responded. The start date and time listed on an Emergency Ticket is not when an excavator is clear to dig.


The one-hour period is the timeframe that member utilities have to respond to the request, either in person with marks or by phone, to indicate when the marking will occur. Member utilities will mark facilities as soon as possible and the marking should be completed within three hours. It is understood that circumstances may arise where a three-hour response time is not possible. The state law allows for 24 hours to respond to an emergency, but Diggers Hotline members have agreed to the quicker response time.


Each member utility maintains an emergency phone number for use in the processing of emergency locate requests during after-hours times when their office is closed. These numbers can be obtained when an Emergency Ticket is filed with Diggers Hotline.


Stretch of Road: Utility or municipal work along a single road in one municipality may be filed as a Stretch of Road Ticket. Utility main burial/replacement, shoulder grading and pole replacement are examples of work that may qualify for a Stretch of Road Ticket. Additional tickets will be required for installation of service laterals, if the project turns onto a different street or if the project crosses a municipal border. A maximum radius of 100 feet will be allowed at each intersection. Any location request that exceeds 100 feet at intersections will require additional tickets. When using an intersection as a reference point for marking instructions, detail where specifically in the intersection the path will begin or end.

Appointment: In situations where excavation projects are large and complicated, an appointment call can make the filing of the locate request much easier.


A time will be set for the caller to meet with locators from the facility owner companies at the job site. If, for some reason, the appointment time cannot be met, the member utility will contact the caller to arrange a new time.


The caller has two options:

  • The caller may contact each facility owner after receiving a ticket number from Diggers Hotline.
  • The contact center representative can set up an appointment between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. three business days from the time of the call.


The start date in either case will be listed as six business days from the time of the call. Because the appointment will explain a large and complex project, members of Diggers Hotline require three business days from the time of the appointment in order to locate their facilities. The location of the meetings for all Appointment Tickets should be at the actual job site or very close to it.


Valid Appointment Tickets may be relocated with a Crew-On-Site relocate. See Relocates section.


If the area contains easily defined addresses or locations then each address/location should be filed as individual tickets, with the exception of tickets that qualify for Multiple Vertical Dig Site Tickets. Once roads and/or addresses are established on a large tract of land, such as a subdivision or industrial park, each address/lot will require an individual ticket.


Multiple Vertical Dig Site: Multiple vertical dig sites within one municipality can be filed as a Multiple Vertical Dig Site Ticket. Examples include tree planting projects, utility pole projects, sign posts and soil borings.


The ticket is filed as an appointment ticket, and the contractor is required to work closely with the locators on the ticket to ensure the locators have enough time to accurately mark facilities. Providing a project map or list of addresses is an example of working closely with the locators. A relocate of a Multiple Vertical Dig Site Ticket will be handled the same as a relocate of an Appointment Ticket.


Project: Large ongoing worksites can be covered with a Project Ticket. If the caller provides the duration of work, up to one year, the caller can request a crew-on-site or 24-hour relocate within that duration of work, even if there has been no activity at the jobsite for 10 days. When requesting a relocate, the caller must provide an on-site contact for locators to contact to establish the exact area that needs to be relocated at the worksite.


An example of a Project Ticket could be a road project or large site development where an excavator works on and off at the worksite over an extended period of time and receives short notice before returning to the site.


A Project Ticket must be identified as such in the remarks field of the locate request. The ticket must also contain the duration of work.


Earlier Start Dates: Diggers Hotline cannot issue an earlier start date for non-emergency excavation. Earlier start dates must be obtained directly from each of the facility owners after placing a locate request with Diggers Hotline.


The contact center representative will list the start date as the standard three business days and will also provide the phone number for the locators of each member utility. If approval is not received from all the Diggers Hotline members involved, the start date issued by Diggers Hotline will remain in effect, and excavation should not begin earlier.



With a planning locate request, actual excavation in the immediate future is not intended. Rather, a construction project is in the planning stage, and information on the location of existing facilities is being sought. The request must be project specific. Diggers Hotline representatives will process a planning call in much the same way they would an excavation call. A full description of the proposed job site is required. Member utilities will respond to a planning notice within 10 days after receipt of the notice.


Planning - Marks: Member utilities will respond with paint or flags at the project’s site.


Planning - Prints: A request is made for the member utilities to provide records to the caller.


Overhead Lines: Diggers Hotline also takes calls where excavation is not intended, but where aerial equipment will be used near overhead lines. OSHA requires that you stay at least 10 feet away from distribution lines and up to 16 feet away from transmission lines with excavators, back-hoes, wheel loaders, digger derricks used for auguring holes, and setting poles in telecommunications and electrical work, etc. Under the 2010 OSHA Crane Standard, if you use cranes, articulating cranes, truck-boom cranes, including service/mechanic trucks with a hoisting device, a 20 foot clearance must be maintained from power lines. Preventing encroachment within the 20 foot clearance requires that specific options be followed to ensure the safety of workers. Be sure to check the standard to see if your equipment is covered: CFR 29 Part 1926.1400 and contact the owner or operator of the overhead line(s) if necessary to ensure required working clearances are maintained.



Additionally, callers can ask for a Relocate Ticket to refresh marks at a jobsite.


Crew-on-Site Relocate: If a valid ticket needs to be re-marked and the crew is at the work site, the caller will be issued a crew on-site relocate. On such tickets, member utilities should respond to the excavator within one hour to let them know when the site will be relocated. Full details about crew-on-site relocates are in the Ticket Lifespan/Relocates section later in this guide.


24-Hour Relocate: If a valid ticket needs to be re-marked, but a crew is not at the worksite, the caller will receive a new start date and time that is generally 24 hours from the current date and time, excluding weekends and holidays. Full details about 24-hour relocates are in the Ticket Lifespan/Relocates section later in this guide.


3-Day Relocate: If work has not started within 10 calendar days after the legal start date or work has been interrupted for more than 10 calendar days, the excavator should call Diggers Hotline and a 3-day Relocate Ticket will be issued with a new three working day start date.

Preparing Locate Requests (Print Section)

Diggers Hotline representatives are professionally trained to obtain specific information concerning locate requests. Each question is asked either because it is required by state law or by the utilities to ensure adequate information is collected to provide a safe and accurate locate request.


On page 24 is a locate request checklist which can guide a caller through the process.


ID Number: Frequent callers to Diggers Hotline can be issued a caller identification number, which can be used to automatically populate some of the following information. It is strongly suggested that each Diggers Hotline user have his/her own ID number.


Phone Number: The telephone number of the caller is taken in case additional information is required at a later time and for use by those member utilities who call to confirm appointments or respond to an emergency excavation request.


Caller’s Name/Company Name & Address: The caller’s name and company name are taken in order to maintain records of all locate requests.


Field Representative and Phone Number: If the person in charge of the work is different than the caller, a field contact is needed. Providing an accurate phone number that will reach someone in the field is important in the event that a utility locator needs to reach someone concerning the job.


Work Being Done For: The customer’s name or the general contractor’s name is sufficient.




City/Place and County: Diggers Hotline recognizes cities, towns and villages in Wisconsin. Some Diggers Hotline members receive tickets based on what is entered in the City/Place and County fields. By providing an incorrect place name, the correct Diggers Hotline members may not receive the locate request.


Address, Street, Side of Street: If this information cannot be provided by the user, Diggers Hotline will not be able to process the locate request. If a traditional street address is not available, acceptable substitutes include a fire number, a lot number or another specific description of the location of the work site.


Multiple horizontal excavations must be filed as one address, one ticket. For example, the installation of 15 service laterals will result in the filing of 15 separate tickets.


Exceptions to the one address, one ticket requirement are:

  • Multiple Dig Sites Tickets
  • Stretch of Road / From-To Tickets
  • Appointment Tickets


See "Types of Locate Requests" earlier in this publication for more information on these ticket types.


Intersection #1, Distance and Direction from Intersection: Diggers Hotline is required by state law to obtain the nearest intersecting road, and the distance and direction from the nearest intersection to process a locate request.


Intersection #2: Although not required, a second intersection road close to the excavation site may be given.


TRSQ: The town/range/section/quarter section numbers of the excavation site may also be provided, but these numbers are not required.




Type of Work: The more detail provided, the better. "Installation of a sanitary sewer lateral" is more helpful than "digging for a sewer line."


Explosives: Diggers Hotline asks whether explosives will be used in an effort to assist gas facility owners in complying with gas safety rules.


Overhead Lines: Diggers Hotline asks if the equipment being used extends to more than 14 feet above ground, and if so, if the equipment will be used within 25 feet of any overhead lines. If the answer to both questions is “yes”, the caller is advised OSHA requires that you stay at least 10 feet away from distribution lines, up to 16 feet away from transmission lines and 20 feet away from any lines with equipment covered under the 2010 OSHA Crane Standard. Contact the owner or operator of the overhead line(s) if necessary to ensure required working clearances are maintained. Please see page 6 for more information.


Boring Equipment: Due to the number of damages that occur with boring, facility owners need to be aware if boring will take place at the work site.


Start Date/Time: Diggers Hotline will offer the earliest legal start date possible and then ask how soon after this time the work is scheduled to begin. The legal start date will become the latter of these two dates.


Wisconsin's state law requires a minimum of three working days notification. Working days are defined in the law as any day other than Saturdays, Sundays, or legal holidays. Please see page 1 for the list of holidays.


Starting excavation before the legal start date and time is prohibited by state law; beginning work early can result in forfeiture of the excavator’s rights and protection provided for under state statute 182.0175.


Diggers Hotline does not process locate requests more than 30 days prior to the intended start of excavation.


Marking Instructions: After identifying the location of the job site, Diggers Hotline will identify what portion of the job site is to be marked out. If your excavation work exceeds your marking instructions, you must call for another locate request with the correct marking instructions.


Diggers Hotline will not accept instructions to mark a specific facility.


It may be helpful to think in terms of Area, Radius/Perimeter or Path for marking instructions. Here are some tips on these types of marking instructions:


Area: Always clearly describe all four sides of the area to be marked. Locators should never have to make assumptions about the size of an area. If using distances, always include a specific starting point and the directions to proceed from that point.


Radius/Perimeter: Make sure the radius has a proper center point. Make sure the perimeter has a defined area.


Path: Use specific starting and ending points and a width when using a path, including road right of way. When using an intersection as a reference point for marking instructions, detail where specifically in the intersection the path will begin or end.


Remarks: Diggers Hotline contact center representatives will also record any additional information. A Project Ticket must be identified as such in the Remarks section.




Diggers Hotline will not ask the following questions during a call, but it is sometimes helpful for the caller to provide some or all of this information


Fax Number, Cell Number, Pager Number, Best Time to Reach, Email: This information can be added to the ticket to allow locators a variety of ways to communicate with the caller.


Duration of Work: The response to this question helps locators schedule their workloads. This information is required to file a Project Ticket.


Pre-Marked: Whenever possible identify the proposed work area with white paint, flags, or stakes. This will provide locators with an accurate understanding of the proposed excavation area.


Subdivision, Block Number, Lot Number, Job Number, Permit Number, Print Reference Number: These are all fields that may be used to help better identify the site of the proposed excavation.


After all the information is verified, Diggers Hotline will issue a ticket number. It is very important to keep this ticket number as future inquiries concerning the ticket will be expedited if the ticket number is available. Contact center representatives will also offer to list the member utilities that will receive the locate request.

Diggers Hotline Member Responsibilities and Locate Requests (Print Section)

As a locate request is completed, the ticket is processed and the data associated with the locate request is sent to affected utility members.


After receiving and screening the locate request, each Diggers Hotline member, or their locating contractor, will mark the location of their facilities in the field in a reasonable manner. Facilities will be marked according to the following color codes:


Red: Electric power lines, cables, conduit and lighting cables

Yellow: Gas, oil, steam, petroleum, or gaseous materials

Orange: Communications, alarm or signal lines, cables or conduit

Blue: Water, irrigation, or slurry lines

Green: Sewers and drain lines

Pink: Temporary survey markings

White: Proposed excavation


Member utilities will use stakes, flags, paint, or other suitable materials in varying combinations dependent upon the type of surface to be marked. These marks will be in sufficient quantity to clearly identify the routes of the facility


Supplemental off-set markings may be added, when the surface over the underground facility is expected to be destroyed.


When an appointment is set up, either by Diggers Hotline or directly with members, locating representatives will meet the caller at the time and place agreed upon. If, the appointment time cannot be met, the member will contact the caller to arrange a new time.

Excavator Responsibilities after Making a Locate Request (Print Section)

Notifying Diggers Hotline is only the first step for the caller in fulfilling his or her responsibilities in the locating process.


After the markings have been made, excavators are required to maintain a minimum clearance of 18 inches between a marked and unexposed transmission facility and the cutting edge or point of any power-operated excavating or earth-moving equipment.


If excavation is required within 18 inches of any marking, the excavation should be performed very carefully with hand tools. See State Statutes 182.0175(2)(am)(3)


If the underground transmission facility is exposed, the excavator may reduce the clearance to two times the known limit of control of the cutting edge or point of the equipment or 12 inches, whichever is greater.


If marks are destroyed or covered by excavation site activities, weather, or any other means, the excavator must provide a relocate notice to Diggers Hotline. If work does not start within 10 calendar days of the scheduled start date, or the work is interrupted for more than 10 calendar days, the excavator must provide a three working day locate notice to Diggers Hotline. See State Statute 182.0175(2)(am)(4) and Relocates earlier in this guide.


If, during the course of excavation, a facility has been exposed, it is the excavator’s responsibility to inspect and support these facilities prior to backfilling in order to ascertain if the facilities have been struck or damaged in any capacity. If damage of any kind is discovered or any suspicion of damage exists, it is the excavator’s responsibility to immediately notify the facility owner directly. The excavator must refrain from backfilling an excavation until an inspection is conducted and any necessary repairs have been made by the owner of the transmission facility. Diggers Hotline will provide the contact number of facility owners, upon request.


When one member utility indicates there are no facilities in conflict at a job site, it does not mean other facilities are not at the location.


Also be aware of facilities on or near your work site that might be privately owned, including propane. Homeowners and private businesses can own facilities on property that is owned by them. These facility owners are not required to be members of Diggers Hotline. It is the excavator’s duty to notify the owners of private facilities of their intent to dig.


A list of private locating companies is available at www.DiggersHotline.com.


Also, excavators are encouraged to have a copy of the locate request at the work site and to keep a copy of the ticket until well after the project has been completed.


When excavation is complete on large worksites, it is the duty of the general contractor to remove marking flags and stakes. For single employer worksites, it is the duty of the ticket holder to remove flags and stakes.

Ticket Lifespan/Relocates (Print Section)


According to state law, an excavator shall provide a repeat notice if marks are destroyed or covered by excavation activities, if excavation does not start within 10 days of the scheduled start date or if excavation is interrupted for more than 10 days. Excavation shall include actual digging as well as preparatory work at the job site.


Diggers Hotline offers relocate tickets to get refreshed marks at an active job site without waiting full three working days.


If the excavator is aware that a member utility has failed to mark a valid locate ticket, the excavator may contact the member, or the member’s contract locating company directly, without calling Diggers Hotline.


Relocates (Valid Ticket): A valid ticket is one for which work begins within 10 calendar days after the legal start date and work is not interrupted for more than 10 calendar days.


If a valid ticket needs to have marks refreshed, but a crew is not at the worksite, the caller will receive a new start date and time that is generally 24 hours from the current date and time, excluding weekends and holidays. This ticket is known as a 24-hour relocate. The member utility will respond as soon as possible within the 24-hour period.


If a valid ticket needs to be relocated and the crew is at the work site, the caller will be issued a crew-on-site relocate. On such tickets, Diggers Hotline members should respond to the excavator within one hour to let them know when the site will be relocated. Even though the caller will receive a start date and time that is one hour from the current date and time, the ticket does not become valid until the member utilities contact and/or relocate the site. The facilities will be marked as soon as practical, generally within three hours if excavation must begin within four hours, or before the excavation is to begin if work is to begin after four hours.


Re-Marking (Invalid Ticket): If work has not started within 10 calendar days after the legal start date or work has been interrupted for more than 10 calendar days, the excavator should call Diggers Hotline and a 3-day relocate ticket will be issued with a new three working day start date.


Appointment Tickets: Valid appointment tickets may be relocated with a Crew-On-Site relocate.


Planning Tickets: If a relocate is requested on a planning ticket, member utilities will respond within 10 calendar days after the request is received.


Callers shall not be granted a crew on-site or 24-hour relocate if the relocate is filed after February 1 for a ticket that has not been filed or relocated since before November 1 of the prior year. Callers will still be granted 3 working day tickets for those situations.

Depth of Facilities (Print Section)

Diggers Hotline does not have information on the specific location or depth of buried facilities. Although facility owners may follow depth guidelines when installing lines, they have no control over depth variation caused by human intervention, weather, or other circumstances.

Reporting Problems (Print Section)

There are several problems which the excavator may encounter during the locating process. Diggers Hotline will assist in the resolution of these problems. The following are some of the more commonly experienced problems with a brief description of the proper channels to follow.


Correcting Errors: If, at any time, it is discovered that incorrect information was provided to Diggers Hotline, callers should notify Diggers Hotline as soon as possible. Contact center representatives will correct the problem by filing a new ticket. A new start date will be issued.


Missing Marks: If the start date and time issued by Diggers Hotline has arrived and a member utility has failed to mark the facilities or has marked the facilities incorrectly, it is best to contact that facility owner directly. Diggers Hotline can provide the appropriate phone numbers if needed. To ensure the safety of the excavation crews and the general public, excavation should not begin until the excavator is confident that all facilities have been marked correctly.


Legal Matters: Records of locate requests are kept for at least six years. In the event the contractor is involved in a court case, Diggers Hotline can be of assistance by providing copies of these records. There may be a fee involved in record retrieval.


In any of the following situations, contact the facility owner(s) directly:

  • To report damage to any type of facility.
  • To report any type of service outage.

  • To resolve any type of billing problem.

  • To request any type of facility removal or relocation. (Including meter removals prior to demolition of a building.)
  • To request any type of utility service.


If an excavation occurs outside the state of Wisconsin, that state’s one-call center should be contacted directly.