There’s no such thing as minor damage to utilities. What looks like a small nick in a gas, sewer, electric, or water line can result in a major health and fire hazard to the surrounding neighborhood. And damaged phone lines or fiber optic cables can disrupt 911 emergency service.
Never bury a damaged utility. Trying to cover up an accident can be dangerous, and can lead to costly damages or criminal charges against you and your company. Take the following steps instead.
If you contact a natural gas pipeline or suspect a gas leak, take these steps:
- Warn others and leave the area immediately.
- Do not use matches, lighters, or anything electrical–even a phone. A spark could ignite leaking gas.
- Do NOT attempt to stop the flow of gas or fix the pipeline. Leave the excavation open.
- When you have reached a safe distance away, report the incident:
- Call 911 immediately if you suspect a gas leak. Federal code requires this.
- Call Utility Name at 000-000-0000 if you suspect a gas leak or contact a pipeline, even if damage is not apparent.
- Stay far away and upwind from the area until safety officials say it is safe to return.
- Report the incident to your supervisor.
If you are operating equipment that contacts a power line, take these steps:
- Move the equipment away from the line if you can do so safely.
- Remain on the equipment until utility workers say it is safe to get off.
- Warn others to stay away from the line and anything it is touching. Anyone who touches the line, the equipment, or even the ground nearby may be injured or killed immediately.
- Have someone call 911 and Utility Name immediately.
- If fire or other danger forces you off:
- Do NOT touch the equipment and the ground at the same time.
- Jump clear and land with your feet together.
- Shuffle away with small steps, keeping your feet close together and on the ground at all times.
- Do not return to the equipment until utility personnel tell you it is safe.
In the event of any type of utility contact, take appropriate safety steps and notify your supervisor and the utility immediately.