In 2015, there were more than 1,000 preventable contacts with FortisBC’s buried natural gas lines resulting in unsafe digging situations and millions paid by contractors and individuals for repairs, which is why FortisBC is reminding people about the importance of following safe digging practices.
Whether you are a contractor providing landscaping services or a homeowner starting your garden this spring, the best way to ensure safety is to call BC One Call before you dig. Contacting BC One Call is free and you only need to call three days in advance of when you plan to start your project. BC One Call will notify member companies that have buried utilities in your dig area, including FortisBC, who will provide the information you need.
“Call before you dig is the first step to ensure your safety and damage prevention. Working so closely with FortisBC allows us to align our messages together to reach more residents in B.C. with safe digging information,” said Gary Metz, executive director of BC One Call.
Many types of underground lines serve your home or construction site, including gas and electricity but also water, telephone and cable TV can be located only a few feet beneath the surface. Knowing what underground facilities are buried in or near a jobsite that involves excavation or personal property is essential to avoid potentially dangerous accidents that could result from hitting a line.
“While virtually all natural gas line hits are preventable, we still saw a slight increase from the previous year in the number of contacts with our infrastructure,” said Doyle Sam, executive vice-president, operations and engineering. “It is important that we continue to educate contractors and the public to ensure they stay safe and understand that calling before you dig is a legal obligation mandated by a number of different regulatory bodies, including the BC Safety Authority and Work Safe BC.”
Ensuring one’s safety is always the most important aspect of digging; however, the costs associated with a damaged line are another consideration. In 2015, contractors and homeowners paid approximately $2.5 million to repair damaged gas lines.
In addition to the direct cost, numerous indirect costs have to be paid by contractors and individuals for things like work delays and legal fines to safety authorities. There are also public funds used to cover the cost of emergency services, plus these incidents can prevent or delay first responders from attending to a call that requires immediate assistance.
It’s important to remember that whether you’re gardening, planting a tree, installing a fence or excavating, you can stay safe and avoid unexpected costs by calling BC One Call before commencing work to get your free natural gas line location details.
FortisBC is a proud member of Canadian Common Ground Alliance (CCGA), an organization dedicated to raising awareness about safe digging practices across Canada. FortisBC is participating in Safe Digging Month, along with utilities throughout the country, to create campaigns to spread the safe digging message.For more information on gas line safety and safe excavation practices, please visit fortisbc.com/safedigging or bconecall.ca. You can also watch our “Call Before You Dig” video.
Three easy steps for safe digging:
• Call or click: Call BC One Call at 1-800-474-6886 or click on bconecall.ca to make an e-ticket locate request.
• Review: Within two days, you’ll receive your natural gas line location information. Review it before digging.
• Clarify: Need help understanding where it’s safe to dig? Call FortisBC at 1-888-822-6555.
Ian Turnbull is a damage prevention & emergency services manager with FortisBC.