Industry Safety Efforts Help Cut Excavation Damages in Half

News Release

Industry Safety Efforts Help Cut Excavation Damages in Half

Natural Gas Utilities Promote National Safe Digging Month and AGA Releases Safety Video

Washington, D.C. – According to the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), an organization co-founded by the American Gas Association (AGA) and dedicated to utility line damage prevention, excavation damages for all underground facilities have decreased by approximately 50 percent since 2004. This improvement is due in large part to work done by local natural gas utilities to promote the use of “Call 811,” the national number for people to call to locate utility lines before beginning any digging project, no matter how small. With excavation damage remaining the leading cause of pipeline incidents in the United States, America’s natural gas utilities are committed to reducing their occurrence even further by urging communities to follow safe digging protocol and call 811 before beginning any kind of project that involves digging. Across the country, natural gas utilities are engaging innovative outreach campaigns to spread the word about safe digging in their communities.

“Safety is the top priority for AGA and its member companies,” said AGA President and CEO Dave McCurdy. “The industry has multiple safeguards in place to protect our customers and our communities, but it is vital that we help ensure the public understands the need to take certain simple steps to save lives and property. Calling 811 is one of the easiest things people can do to help prevent unnecessary pipeline incidents – and it’s free.”

AGA today also released a video to help children understand natural gas safety. McCurdy added: “While April is Safe Digging Month, the natural gas industry is focused on safe practices all year round. Helping children understand the tenets of natural gas safety is critical, and as they take those messages home to their families and friends we can reach an even wider audience with potentially lifesaving information.” 

Click the play button above to watch the video on YouTube.

Delivery by pipeline is the safest means of transporting energy, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. America’s natural gas industry operates 2.4 million miles of natural gas pipelines and is dedicated to safely and reliably delivering the nation’s abundance of clean, domestic and affordable natural gas to homes and businesses throughout the United States. The industry spends $19 billion per year to enhance the safety and integrity of natural gas distribution and transmission systems and works with regulators and industry partners to share information and best practices. In addition, all pipeline operators develop and implement pipeline safety awareness programs to help educate the public about how to safely operate natural gas appliances, identify hazards, detect and respond to natural gas leaks, and more.

This April marks the seventh annual National Safe Digging Month, an initiative put in place by CGA to remind professionals and homeowners of the importance of following safe digging procedures. Striking a single utility line can cause injury and outages, and incur repair costs and fines. Every digging project – even small projects like installing a mailbox, building a deck or planting a tree or garden – warrants a free call to 811 to help ensure utility lines are avoided. 
Utility crews will locate and mark lines at no cost to the caller.

Promoting safe digging awareness is just one of the many ways America’s natural gas utilities continuously work to help keep communities safe and help ensure that our distribution and transmission system continues to be the safest and most reliable method of delivering energy in the nation.