Virginia's Hand Digging
Requirements & Best Practices
This information is prepared and provided by the Virginia State Corporation Commission's Division of Utility and Railroad Safety. Nothing contained in this application is intended to supersede the existing state law or the Commission’s Rules. The Commission does not assume any responsibility for the acts or conduct of any reader of this information.
If you discover:
If You Discover...
Excavating Within Two Feet
Virginia law requires you to follow certain steps when excavating within two feet on either side of the staked or marked location of an underground utility line.
Such steps include, but may not be limited to:
1. Exposing the utility line to its extremities by hand digging before beginning the proposed excavation. For more information on the exposing underground utility lines best practices, click.
2. Not using mechanized equipment within two feet of the extremities of all exposed utility lines.
3. Protecting the exposed utility lines from damage. In addition, for excavations parallel to an existing utility line, such steps shall include, but may not be limited to, hand digging at reasonable distances along the line of excavation.
Commission Rule 20VAC5-309-120 requires that excavators maintain a reasonable clearance, to include the width of the utility line plus two (2) feet between the marked or staked location of an underground utility line and the cutting edge or point of any mechanized equipment. Consider the known limit of control of the cutting edge or point to avoid damaging underground utility lines.
Note: Try using Chrome instead of the built-in browser if having viewing problems on your Android phone.