Natural Gas Safety Case Studies 2020-07-16T15:23:50+00:00

Case studies—learn from these mistakes

Take a lesson from these unfortunate, true stories about job site mistakes. Expand the “Don’t do what they did!” boxes to see relevant safety information, so you can prevent similar tragedies.

A man in a hurry

A Missouri contractor who called before digging hit a 6-inch high-pressure gas line in an industrial park. He was told the gas company would be locating a line at the site, but he began digging the day before the date set for marking. The line was capped within two hours of the accident, and fortunately there were no injuries or damage. (Source: Underground Focus magazine)

Notify 811 before you dig or move earth in any way. This free service will arrange for Utility Name and other 811 member utilities to locate and mark their underground lines so you can dig a safe distance away from them.

Dial 811 or use the online ticket-entry system, then wait your state’s required time for facility owners to mark their lines before you dig:

  • State Name: Wait two full business days, excluding weekends and legal holidays.
  • State Name: Beginning at 7 a.m. on the next business day, wait 48 hours excluding weekends and legal holidays.

Pre-mark your proposed excavation area with white paint, flags, and/or stakes before you contact 811.

Wait for utilities to be marked before digging. Once utilities are marked, respect the marks, hand expose to verify location, and dig with care.

Know what's below. 811 before you dig.Notify 811 well ahead of digging, so underground utilities can be marked and you can work safely.

Worker with jackhammer

Shocking fact:
Not all utilities are members of 811. You are responsible for notifying non-member utilities.

Always call 911 if gas is leaking

A Minnesota contractor severed a buried natural gas pipeline with digging equipment. He reported the leak to his supervisor, but did not call 911 or the local utility company. Within 40 minutes, gas migrated into a nearby building and exploded, killing four people, injuring eleven and destroying six buildings. (Source: National Transportation Safety Board)

Report all gas pipeline contacts to 911 and Utility Name immediately.
There’s no such thing as minor damage to a gas line. What looks like a small nick can result in a major fire and explosion hazard to the surrounding neighborhood. So if you or someone on your crew contacts a natural gas pipeline, take these steps:

  • Warn others, and leave the area immediately.
  • Do not use matches or a lighter, start an engine, or operate any electrical device—even a phone. A spark could ignite the gas, causing a fire or explosion.
  • Leave the excavation open, and do not attempt to stop the flow of gas or fix the pipeline.
  • When you have reached a safe distance, call 911 and Utility Name immediately at 000-000-0000.
    • Excavators are required by law to call 911 in the event of escaping gas.
    • Call the utility even if there is no visible damage to the pipeline.
  • Stay away from the area until safety officials say it is safe to return.
  • Report the incident to your supervisor.

Never bury a damaged gas pipeline. Trying to cover up an accident can be dangerous, and can lead to costly damages or criminal charges against you or your company.

Shocking fact:
An underground utility contact can happen even if you have dug in the area before or think you know the location of the lines. Landscaping, erosion, or other factors can change the location and depth of underground lines. Notify 811 to have all nearby underground utility lines marked before you begin the job.

Learn the warning signs of a gas leak:

Utility Name adds mercaptan, which has a highly recognizable sulfur-like odor, to natural gas to assist in leak detection. But don’t rely on your nose alone to detect a leak. Use your senses of sight and hearing, as well. Here are the signs:

  • Continuous bubbling in water
  • A hissing, whistling, or roaring sound
  • Dead or dying vegetation (in an otherwise moist area) over or near a pipeline
  • Dirt or water being thrown into the air
  • Exposed pipeline after an earthquake, fire, flood, or other disaster
  • A damaged connection to a gas appliance

If you observe any of the above conditions, call the Utility Names emergency phone number at 000-000-0000 and 911 from a safe location.

Firefighters

If you smell gas, get out fast

A 39-year-old Canadian woman refused to leave her home despite a gas line rupture and was killed when the gas exploded. The woman’s husband had hit a buried natural gas line while digging footings for a room addition. He went into the house and warned his wife of the gas leak, but she assured him she was safe. The man went back outside to wait for repair technicians to arrive. The explosion knocked the man down, and he was dragged away from the flames by a friend. The woman died in the fire. (Source: Alberta.com news report)

Report all gas pipeline contacts to 911 and Utility Name immediately.
There’s no such thing as minor damage to a gas line. What looks like a small nick can result in a major fire and explosion hazard to the surrounding neighborhood. So if you or someone on your crew contacts a natural gas pipeline, take these steps:

  • Warn others, and leave the area immediately.
  • Do not use matches or a lighter, start an engine, or operate any electrical device—even a phone. A spark could ignite the gas, causing a fire or explosion.
  • Leave the excavation open, and do not attempt to stop the flow of gas or fix the pipeline.
  • When you have reached a safe distance away, call 911 and Utility Name immediately at 000-000-0000.
    • Excavators are required by law to call 911 in the event of escaping gas.
    • Call the utility even if there is no visible damage to the pipeline.
  • Stay away from the area until safety officials say it is safe to return.
  • Report the incident to your supervisor.

Never bury a damaged gas pipeline. Trying to cover up an accident can be dangerous, and can lead to costly damages or criminal charges against you or your company.

Shocking fact:
An underground utility contact can happen even if you have dug in the area before or think you know the location of the lines. Landscaping, erosion, or other factors can change the location and depth of underground lines. Notify 811 to have all nearby underground utility lines marked before you begin the job.

Learn the warning signs of a gas leak:

Utility Name adds mercaptan, which has a highly recognizable sulfur-like odor, to natural gas to assist in leak detection. But don’t rely on your nose alone to detect a leak. Use your senses of sight and hearing, as well. Here are the signs:

  • Continuous bubbling in water
  • A hissing, whistling, or roaring sound
  • Dead or dying vegetation (in an otherwise moist area) over or near a pipeline
  • Dirt or water being thrown into the air
  • Exposed pipeline after an earthquake, fire, flood, or other disaster
  • A damaged connection to a gas appliance

If you observe any of the above conditions, call the Utility Names emergency phone number at 000-000-0000 and 911 from a safe location.