Underground distribution lines may run through metal or plastic conduits or may be buried directly in the earth.
Contacting any underground power line poses a shock hazard, as well as the possibility of power outages. Anyone doing a digging project is required by law to notify the 811 center well in advance of digging by dialing 811 or placing an online request. The 811 center arranges for the location of nearby underground power lines to be marked so digging can take place a safe distance away from them.
Excavators must hand dig or use nonintrusive methods when digging around buried power lines and other utilities to avoid damaging these facilities. Only qualified operators may use heavy equipment for excavating.