FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: April 5, 2023
pdf for download
Contacts: Josh Thomas, OUNC Executive Director
firstname.lastname@example.org, (503) 317-5007
Kandi Young, PUC Public Information Officer
email@example.com, (503) 551-5290
Aaron Corvin, Oregon OSHA Public Information Officer
firstname.lastname@example.org, (971) 718-6973
SAFE DIGGING MONTH REMINDS OREGONIANS TO CONTACT 811 BEFORE DIGGING
SALEM, Ore. – In recognition of National Safe Digging Month, the Oregon Utility Notification Center (OUNC), Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA), and Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) remind Oregonians to contact 811 before starting projects that require digging.
Whether a professional contractor or do-it-yourselfer, all play an important role in preventing damage to underground utilities. No matter how big or small a project, contact Oregon 811 to avoid life-threatening injuries and prevent costly damage to necessary utility services. There are three easy steps to safe digging in Oregon:
- Submit a locate request at least two business days before starting a digging project at Oregon811.com or by calling 811.
- Wait for utilities to mark the underground lines.
- Dig carefully, paying close attention to the marks.
Once a locate request is made, the OUNC, which operates the free 811 one-call center, notifies the utility companies that serve the area of the planned project. Utility personnel then visit the project site to mark the approximate location of the underground lines, pipes, and cables in the planned digging area at no cost to the homeowner or employer.
Meanwhile, employers must follow Oregon OSHA requirements to protect workers against the potential hazards of underground utilities. Those requirements include:
- Notifying OUNC of the proposed area of excavations at least two working days before starting an excavation.
- Estimating the location of utilities before opening or extending an excavation.
- Determining by safe and acceptable means, the exact location of the estimated utility installations when excavation activities approach them.
- While excavations are open, underground installations must be protected, supported, or removed as necessary to safeguard employees.
Ryan Sandhu served as an OUNC Board Member from February 2014 until June 2022, representing Special Districts. He was the Chair for the Executive Director’s Selection Committee, an active member with Publicity, Enforcement, Budget & Audit, and the Board of Directors Secretary for four years.
Ryan’s constant professionalism and skillful communication has been cherished as he helped guide many members while they made tough decisions over the years. His contributions not only increased the strength of the board, but the overall damage prevention effort in Oregon as well. Thank you, Ryan.
Contact: Josh Thomas, Executive Director, Oregon Utility Notification Center
503-317-5007 | email@example.com
This Thursday, August 11 (8/11), is National 811 Day. Also known as National Safe Digging Day, the observance exists to raise awareness about contacting 811 before beginning a digging or excavation project. The Oregon Utility Notification Center, which oversees the statewide call or click before you dig program, is reminding Oregonians that using the free service can save money and lives.
“None of us have x-ray vision to see underground utilities before breaking ground, and we know there are a lot of construction and home improvement projects happening this time of year,” said Josh Thomas, Executive Director of the Oregon Utility Notification Center. “National Safe Digging Day is a perfect time to remind everyone to contact 811 first so they don’t have to call 911.” Read more
(PORTLAND, Ore., May 2021) — Oregon Utility Notification Center (OUNC), also known as Oregon 811, is pleased to announce that after a yearlong search, Josh Thomas has been named the notification center’s first-ever executive director.
“It has been a long-awaited appointment for our agency, and we are excited to bring Josh onboard,” said Micah Brown, OUNC board chairman. “With Josh’s background and experience, we look to ensure future success in delivering the 811 message”
Thomas began his new role May 17, 2021. He comes to OUNC with nearly 25 years of experience in public relations and organizational representation. He has held lead communications roles within the Oregon Legislature, municipal government, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Port of Portland. Most recently, he has represented the Oregon dairy industry for the past six years.
Thomas holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from Portland State University, and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. His service on boards and committees has included an art festival, university bookstore, leadership training series, community events, state government, and organizations such as the American Association of Port Authorities, American Cancer Society and the Public Relations Society of America.
In this newly created role, Thomas will lead the 20-member OUNC board of directors, all of whom represent an industry segment and are appointed by the governor for a four-year term. The board is tasked with administering the OUNC and carrying out a variety of public relations and educational programs focused on spreading the “dig safely” damage prevention message.
“I am a firm believer that the best way to solve a problem is to prevent it—and I see great potential with the robust data we can use to effectively target our efforts,” said Thomas. “As the first executive director for the Oregon Utility Notification Center, I am committed to preventing underground utility damage and injuries through effective training, planning and communications.”
“Josh Thomas joining the OUNC as its first Executive Director is a major milestone for the OUNC,” said Ryan Sandhu, OUNC board member and chair of the organization’s executive director selection committee. “Josh has the experience and skill set to help the OUNC continue to fulfil its damage prevention mission and help lead the agency into the next round of advances in the damage prevention industry.”
Thomas lives in Tigard, where he is the Scoutmaster for Troop 423. His oldest son is an Eagle Scout and a student at Oregon State University; his youngest son plays baseball for Tigard High School. His wife, Laurie, runs a small family business as a structural engineer.
305 N.E. 102nd Avenue, Suite 300
Portland, OR 97220
Toll Free: 877-668-4001
The OUNC is an official state agency. www.oregon.gov.