Call 811 – Protecting Infrastructure, Workers, and Our Communities

Call 811 – Protecting Infrastructure, Workers, and Our Communities

A major part of our country’s infrastructure is literally out of sight, but right at our feet. Pipelines, communications, electric, water and sewer – the United States has over 7.1 million miles of buried infrastructure, according to the National Excavator Initiative (NEI). And every time excavation needs to be done, the possibility for accidents and structure damage is present.

That’s where 811, the national “call before you dig” number comes in. Everyone should call 811 several days before any digging or excavating is done – every time. NEI is dedicated to increasing awareness of using 811 and the steps that must be taken after 811 has been contacted. While over 30% of underground infrastructure accidents are caused by people who haven’t contacted 811, over 50% of the accidents happen when the correct steps are not followed. With accident percentages like this, NEI knows that more must be done to help companies, field workers, and homeowners use 811 correctly.

To bring about this much needed recognition, NEI has launched a partnership with Mike Rowe, of the TV series Dirty Jobs, Deadliest Catch, and his groundbreaking Facebook show Returning the Favor. Rowe is also CEO of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, a nonprofit organization that calls attention to the importance of America’s skilled trade workforce and strives to close the gap between supply and demand for these critical careers. Together, NEI and Rowe have developed an animated alter ego, micro Mike Rowe, to highlight the importance of 811 and the consequences of failing to follow through with the correct steps laid out by the 811 initiative.

Micro Mike Rowe is featured in PSAs, videos, expert interviews, radio, billboard, and web ads, designed to help excavators from all walks of life to understand how using 811 safety procedures correctly can drastically reduce the potential for damaging underground facilities and protecting the health and safety of those digging.

Many of these videos are now available on, including the video that introduces micro Mike Rowe, and the monthly featured video. NEI has also developed a Safe Excavator app (look for the orange shovel.) The link is on their site, as well as being available in both the Apple Store and Google Play. This free app gives you up-to-date 811 safety information at your fingertips for all fifty states. It includes data such as how many days in advance of the excavating project that 811 should be called, the need for pre-marking if necessary, and much more.

As Mike Rowe has stated “Civilization is pipes.” He and NEI are partnering to help everyone understand the importance of our buried infrastructure, the need to protect it and people working around this equipment, and how 811 can make everyone safer.