By Evelyn Escalera
BERKELEY — Knowing what’s below when digging can be a matter of life and death. That was the message to participants of an 811 multicultural workshop in Berkeley, hosted by PG&E and New America Media.
On Monday (March 27), approximately 10 day laborers — typically a worker paid one day at a time without promise of future work — learned about how the free 811 Call Before You Dig service works. But more important, they heard about the dangers of not making the call.
The workshop took place at the Multicultural Institute, an agency providing assistance to economically disadvantaged adults in acquiring vocational, social, and educational skills to build self-sufficiency in the San Francisco Bay Area. Many of those served by the agency are immigrants.
The message on the importance of calling 811 before starting any digging job could be life-saving to these workers who were provided information that was also translated into Spanish.
“You need to call no matter the size of the digging project, even if you are planting flowers,” said Ron Deluchhi, retired PG&E foreman, who spoke to the group.
PG&E encourages anyone planning excavation projects big or small to make the free 811 call at least two days prior to any digging. Afterward, utilities will be dispatched to the site to mark underground lines so that unsafe digging, threatening gas and underground services, can be avoided.
Deluchhi explained various scenarios that day laborers and farmworkers may face on the job including relocating water pipes and using large machinery to dig — all of which can be dangerous without 811 markings first. In every scenario the message was clear, electric and gas lines are dangerous and calling 811 can help minimize those dangers.
Pedro Carrillo, a workshop participant, said he learned valuable information that would help him on the job.
“We had an idea of the dangers with electric and gas lines but today’s workshop taught us more and especially how we can prevent getting hurt,” said Carrillo.
Before the workshop none of the participants had heard about the 811 Call Before You Dig service. After the safety presentation, all said they understood why they should call 811 and they said it was a message they would share with family and fellow co-workers.
“We appreciate the information it was very informative,” said Enrique Velasquez, an attendee. “The workshop was very thorough and provided us a lot of good information that will help us stay safe on the job.”
Written brochures about the 811 program, also available in Spanish, were made available at the workshop.
Additional 811 workshops are being planned throughout PG&E’s service area including Sonoma, Napa, and Sacramento and targeting day laborers, farm workers, and students about this important and free service.
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