OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma Natural Gas is urging contractors to be vigilant while working on projects to ensure safe digging.
“We are asking for the public’s help to help ensure everyone follows safe digging guidelines,” says Paige Ross, director of operations, ONG. “Excavation done without having lines marked has led to an increase in lines damaged by contractors that could have been easily avoided with a call to 811.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, damage to pipelines due to excavation could result in outages for residents sheltering in place or working from home. Utilities want to avoid unnecessary contact for local emergency responders, their employees and customers during this period of physical distancing – a goal that becomes more difficult if technicians are required to re-light customers appliances after an avoidable excavation damage. In addition, under certain circumstances, technicians may not be able to go into a home or business to restore gas service.
Underground utility lines can be anywhere, including residential yards, sidewalks, driveways, streets, rights-of-way, fields, creeks and other water crossings.
ONG has created a dedicated web page which includes videos, resources, damage prevention laws and safe digging tips, to help excavators avoid hitting lines and to promote awareness.
ONG offers the following five safe digging tips:
- Call 811 before your excavation at least 48 hours, excluding the date of notification, Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays, before the project starts.
- Verify the marks are fresh and complete: Ensure the markings are not from someone else’s work or a previous project. Verify all utilities have marked their lines and wait for confirmation that marks are complete.
- Respect the tolerance zone by using only non-mechanized equipment. The tolerance zone is the area located 24 inches on either side of the pipeline. Respect these marks to ensure a safe dig.
- Dig within the project area by calling 811, the project area can be defined and helps ensure digging occurs within that zone.
- Smell gas, act fast! Make sure to leave the area immediately and call 911 and Oklahoma Natural Gas at 800-458-4251 if you smell gas.