New York State Excavator Certification Training
What is the new Excavator Certification Training and who needs to be certified?
On November 5, 2018 the Governor signed a law amending the General Business Law (GBL) Article 36 that addresses the "One-Call" training program designed to protect underground facilities. To effectuate the implementation of the law, the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) prepared a White Paper to address the potential implementation proposals. Several clarifications proposed within the White Paper did not clearly identify who should be required to take the training. In an effort to determine what role municipalities were to take in this program and what training requirements could be expected, the New York Association of Town Superintendents of Highways recently met with the PSC and the following is the summary of the meeting:
Based on a recent conversation NYSAOTSOH had with the PSC, below is our (NYSAOTSOH's) interpretation of the Excavator Training Law and current draft White Paper. We recommend you seek advice from your municipal attorney to determine who must take excavator training prior to the May 4th deadline. The association plans to submit comments on the white paper as well. Our understanding is in bold below, the non-bold text are excerpts from the law.
If you have any additional questions, please contact NYSAOTSOH at 518-426-1023.
The Cornell Local Roads Program recommends highway department personnel performing excavator work be trained regardless of whether the individual or individuals are required by law to be trained.
Excavator refers to the business entity itself. Therefore the owner/principal of the company needs to be trained – they are responsible for their employees who excavate.
- Excavators as defined in the new chapter are business entities, so only owners or principals of excavator companies are required to be trained. Starting on May 4, 2019, local governments will be required to ask excavators working on underground facilities to show the owner has completed a training program from a One-Call notification program. If they have not completed such program they have until May 4, 2020.
Operators of Underground Facilities
Any operator who performs or contracts for the excavation of underground facilities shall require the excavator to have completed the training and education program provided by the one-call notification system pursuant to this article or any other provider authorized by the public service commission to administer such training and education program.
In the case of municipalities, this most likely means delivering water, sewer systems or traffic control systems (not storm water systems – definition below).
If your municipality does not operate an underground facility – the law does not require anyone be trained.
If your municipality does operate an underground facility, then the people that physically perform excavations on underground facilities must be trained (this may be the public works department, highway department, water department, etc.).
Municipalities that contract for the excavation of underground facilities (whether or not they operate one) must require the excavator company (owner/principal) to have completed the training. The assoc. is seeking assistance from its counsel for draft contract language requiring contractors to submit an affirmation or proof that they have taken the required training.
Any local government who contracts for the excavation of underground facilities shall require the excavator to have completed the training and education program provided by the one-call notification system pursuant to this article or any other provider authorized by the public service commission to administer such training and education program.
Currently the law lists Dig Safe and New York 811 as the entities authorized to give the excavator training (others can submit comments to the PSC adopting the White Paper's curriculum and be approved by the commission to offer training themselves; the Commission told us at least one town has already done that).
There is no specified length of time of training, therefore the in-person Dig Safe Excavator Certification, the online certified excavator program and the mix of both the shorter in-person with the online test all meet the law's requirements.
Training provided by Dig Safe or New York 811 or any other approved entity meets the law's requirements, regardless of geographic location of work.
Anyone who received training prior to November 5, 2018 either from Dig Safe and New York 811, or from other sources, can rely on that training to meet the requirements of the Act as long as the entity with which they trained submits its curriculum with its comments on this White Paper and that the curriculum is not inconsistent with the training described in the Appendix. This grandfathering is in effect for five years.
Linked here please find an order from the PSC on Excavator Training which was posted on Wednesday, 5/1.
The NYSAOTSOH overview can be found here.
White Paper Process
The PSC is accepting comments on its White Paper until March 17th. They will take the comments into consideration and make any amendments they deem necessary with the hopes of approving the mat the April PSC meeting. Once approved the White Paper will be the framework followed by the agency until the law sunsets or additional changes are made to the law requiring a regulatory change.
New York State Public Service Commission Excavation
Dig Safely NY Certified Excavator Program Online Webpage
New York 811 Excavator Training Program Webpage
Excavator/Contractor: Defined as the company/business itself, owner/principal are the responsible party, and who are responsible for the training of their employees who do the excavations.
Operator: Defined as the owner of a utility (electrical, water, sewer etc.), including municipalities who and operate a utility. This utility designation includes Traffic Control System, but does not include stormwater.
- Excavator: Here "Excavator" is defined as the one who operates the equipment.
- The operator is responsible for training its staff
- If a Highway Department is responsible for any utility, that staff also needs to be trained; if they do not they do not they are not required to take the training
- Best practice suggests that any person excavating should be trained
Underground Facilities: Means pipelines, conduits, ducts, cables, wires, manholes, vaults or other such facilities or their attachments, which have been installed underground by an operator to provide services or materials. Such term shall not include oil and gas production and gathering pipeline systems used primarily to collect oil or gas production from wells.
Excavation: means an operation for the purpose of movement or removal of earth, rock or other materials in or on the ground by use of mechanized equipment or by blasting, and includes, but is not limited to, auguring, backfilling, drilling, grading, plowing in, pulling in, trenching and tunneling; provided, however, that the movement of earth by tools manipulated only by human or animal power and the tilling of soil for agricultural purposes shall not be deemed excavation