Gov. Scott signs Sunshine 811 bill into law

Law establishes mandatory damage reporting for stakeholders

Gov. Scott signed House Bill 379 into law June 14, 2017. The language, now part of the Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act, Chapter 556, Florida Statutes, goes into effect July 1, 2017.

This legislation establishes a framework for gathering damage data to gain a broader understanding of why underground utility damages occur in Florida.

“We will use the data to evaluate the effectiveness of our current damage prevention program, develop targeted education campaigns to increase awareness of the need to dig safely, and support further legislation to prevent damage to Florida’s underground infrastructure if necessary,”  explains Sunshine 811 Executive Director Mark Sweet.

Sunshine 811 recommends that the Common Ground Alliance’s Damage Information Reporting Tool be used to report damages. We will provide more information on how to comply with this recommendation in the coming weeks.

The law also satisfies the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration requirement to call 911 following damage to a buried pipeline.

Sunshine 811 is currently revising its English Damage Prevention Guide and Spanish GUÍA DE PREVENCIÓN DE DAÑOS. The new guides will be posted to our online store as soon as they are available.

The specific sections within Chapter 556, F.S., are as follows:

  • s. 556.107(1)(c) Allows State enforcement authorities to retain 80 percent of the civil penalty collected by the clerk of the court from citations issued for violation of Chapter 556 (as currently granted to local enforcement authorities as an incentive to enforce the law);
  • s. 556.105(12) Requires excavators to call 911 to report any contact with an underground pipeline that results in a release of a hazardous material or substance (as directed by US DOT PHMSA for consistency with federal law);
  • s. 556.105(12) Requires that member operators report to the system at least annually by March 31 of each year a report of the damages to their underground facilities for the preceding year (to build a database of damages to underground facilities in Florida to include if known, the cause, nature and location of the damage);
  • s. 556.103(5) Authorizes the system to analyze damage data reported to the system as authorized by the Board of Directors (to support future legislation needed to reduce damages to critical underground facilities and assist in developing targeted public awareness campaigns);
  • s. 556.103(5) Requires the system to annually send a summary of damages reported to the system for the preceding year to Florida's Governor, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House of Representatives pursuant to s. 556.103.