“Dig Safe” – Everyone’s Responsibility

April 29, 2022

April is “Dig Safe” month, a good time to remind people about safe digging practices when working in the ground for their job or at their homes. It’s important to know what kind of infrastructure like pipelines, or utility lines, are buried underground before starting any kind of project. Click Before You Dig is the best way to find out.

Shannon Neufeld, Technical Leader of Safety & Damage Prevention at the CER encourages everyone to use the one-call centre in their province. When you use clickbeforeyoudig.com to make a locate request, the one-call centre will notify all the registered buried utility owners near your project about your plans. They will locate the pipes and cables, and in the case of federally regulated pipelines and power lines, provide essential safety information at no cost to you. You have a right to that information, and a responsibility to request it.

Shannon remembers one story from working with a utility company that hit close to home.

“I was on my way to the hospital to deliver my daughter. I heard on the radio that a house nearby had exploded due to a natural gas leak. I called my office right away to find out if there had been a locate request for a pipe in the area” she says. “There hadn’t been.”

The homeowner was using a post hole auger to put in a fence and nicked the gas service line near the house. The natural gas migrated into the house, near the natural gas water heater. It didn’t take long before there was an explosive mixture in the basement which was ignited by the pilot light and the house was blown off the foundation.

“Thankfully, the young family got out of the house before it exploded,” she says recalling the near tragedy. If he had just made one locate call, he would not have hit the gas line and blown up his house.”

Stories like this highlight why safe digging practices are an important part of the CER’s commitment to damage prevention.

The CER recently issued a safety advisory to remind regulated companies how deep the soil should be over their pipelines in agricultural areas. The advisory was prompted by a recent incident where a farmer unintentionally struck a pipeline that didn’t have enough soil cover while operating a tractor. The incident caused a pipeline rupture, releasing natural gas into the atmosphere.

“Agricultural activities, weather events, and natural disasters can all reduce the depth of soil cover over a pipe over time,” Shannon says. “If you aren’t sure if it is safe to continue work in an area, you should always use Click Before You Dig.”

After many years of working to keep people safe when living or working near pipelines, Shannon has a good piece of advice for all of us: “Damage prevention is a shared responsibility, and if we all do our part, we are all safer.”

Read our full Safety Advisory.

Learn more about Damage Prevention.

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