NORTH JACKSON, Ohio (WKBN) – The people behind the slogan “call before you dig” are celebrating their 50th anniversary with demonstrations of problems that can happen with live electric lines.

They also used a virtual construction simulator with excavating equipment to help drive home their message of safety.

“Whether you are putting in a mailbox or planting a tree, you are required to notify a protection service like ours,” said Roger Lipscomb with Ohio 811.

Ohio 811 actually got its start in Youngstown 50 years ago as a collaboration between what was then known as Ohio Bell, the Illuminating Company in Cleveland and East Ohio Gas. 811 now has 1,600 members and serves all of Ohio. The headquarters in North Jackson employs 80 people, roughly half of whom are call takers and handle projects all over the state.

“Last year, for instance, we took 1.5 million incoming requests, people letting us know they’re planning to excavate. For every one of these, we send out a number of notices to the utilities,” Lipscomb said.

Members, which include utility companies and even local municipalities, are required by law to notify 811 of their projects. But those who dig where they shouldn’t can also be held liable for the damages they cause.

“This is why it is important for everyone to make sure that they are contacting 811 before they excavate,” Lipscomb said.

Lipscomb says 811 serves as a link between utilities and excavators to keep both sides safe.