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If You Contact a Utility

There's no such thing as minor damage to utilities.

What looks like a small nick in a gas, sewer, electricity, 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:

In case of electrical contact:

  • If you can do so safely, move the equipment away from the line.
  • Stay on the equipment until utility workers say it is safe to get off.
  • Warn others away. Anyone who touches the equipment or even the ground nearby may be injured or killed.
  • Have someone call 911 and the local electric utility immediately.
  • If fire or other danger forces you off, jump clear, keeping both feet together and without touching the ground and the equipment at the same time. Shuffle away with small steps, keeping your feet close together and on the ground. Or, hop away on two feet, keeping both feet together.      

In case of gas pipeline contact:

  • Warn others and evacuate the area immediately.
  • Do not use matches, cell phones, radios, or lighters, as even a tiny spark could ignite the gas.
  • Leave the excavation open. Do not operate pipeline valves or bury the line.
  • Call 911 and the local gas utility immediately.
  • Stay away from the area until safety officials say it is safe to return.
  • If you accidentally contact a gas line, immediately call 911 and the local natural gas utility.

Learn the warning signs of a gas pipeline leak:

  • A distinctive, sulfur-like odor.
  • A hissing or roaring sound.
  • Dirt spraying or blowing into the air.
  • Continual bubbling in water.
  • Grass/plants dead or dying for no apparent reason.

In case of other utility contact:

  • Notify your supervisor and the utility owner immediately.
  • If you cut a fiber optic cable, do not look into the end of it. This can cause serious eye damage even if the light source is not visible.

In the event of any type of utility contact, take appropriate safety steps and notify your supervisor and the utility immediately.



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