LANSING, Mich.—A two-bill package that would create the “MISS DIG Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act” was passed Tuesday by the Michigan Senate.
The bills, sponsored by Sen. Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek, will update 40-year-old state law by adopting current industry best practices designed to prevent damage to Michigan’s valuable underground infrastructure as well as prevent potential injury and loss of life.
“This legislation is first and foremost about prevention,” said Nofs. “Given the increasing number of facilities being placed underground all over this state and their importance in our daily lives, each of us has a vested interest in ensuring they’re protected from damage.”
The legislation garnered widespread support from industry groups, trade associations, utilities, and safety professionals.
“For the past two years I have worked closely with facility owners, underground contractors, agricultural producers, local municipalities and other stakeholders to create a fair and equitable process for all parties that puts prevention and safety first,” Nofs said.
Senate Bills 539 and 540 maintain MISS DIG as the state’s one-call system and specifies the procedures for when and how to contact the system before you dig, as well as the requirements of facility owners to locate and mark any known facilities in the vicinity of the planned work.
The language provides flexibility by allowing certain routine activities to be conducted to specific depth limits without requiring a call to MISS DIG, including road and railway maintenance, burial activities, daily landfill work, and routine farming operations.
The bills also grant the Michigan Public Service Commission authority to administer a straight-forward process for hearing complaints and settling disputes including the ability to impose fines and costs where necessary.
The bills will now be transmitted to the House of Representatives for further consideration.