Common Ground Alliance partners with United Rentals

February 2011, Vol. 66 No. 2
Ray Alleto, VP of United Rentals Risk Management; Larry Grogan, district manager, United Rentals Dallas-Fort Worth District

The Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the leading organization focused on protecting underground utility lines and the safety of people who dig near them, announced a national partnership with United Rentals, the largest equipment rental company in the world.

United Rentals is an integrated network of 554 rental locations in 48 states and 10 Canadian provinces. The company offers approximately 3,000 classes of equipment for rent with a total original cost of $3.8 billion.

United Rentals will place more than 12,000 "Call 811" decals on its various pieces of equipment to remind its customers to always call the national 811 phone number a few days before digging.

When calling 811, professional excavators and homeowners are connected to their local one-call center, which notifies the appropriate utility companies of their intent to dig. Professional locators are then sent to the requested digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, spray paint or both.

Striking a single line can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811.

CGA recently released the 2009 Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) Report, which estimated 170,000 underground utility lines were damaged last year during excavation, and one in three incidents were caused by an excavator's failure to call 811 before digging. Backhoes and trenchers were the equipment used in 63 percent of the reported damages, with hand tools (21 percent) and drilling equipment (10 percent) well behind them for the third consecutive year.

The new partnership developed in large part due to the efforts of Deere & Company, which recommended United Rentals partner with CGA. Deere is a strategic supplier to United Rentals for earthmoving equipment, and it was a national launch partner of CGA when 811 went into effect in 2007.

"United Rentals is the rental industry leader in equipment and excavation safety, and has long recognized that safety is good business," said CGA President Bob Kipp. "Having 811 decals on United Rentals equipment will reach tens of thousands of excavators each year, before they break any ground. This will go a long way in saving lives and protecting communities from the consequences of damage to underground utility lines."