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Excavator / Contractor Natural Gas Safety

Caution!

Alliant Energy has natural gas pipeline assets in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. It's important to know the risks of working around natural gas pipelines. The most obvious and unfortunate cost of accidental contact with gas mains is injury or death. Contact with natural gas facilities can also increase insurance premiums and workers' compensation payments, and can damage equipment.

Contractors are responsible for damage to pipelines that occur while they are working on a construction site. Hitting an underground gas pipeline can become a dangerous proposition, leading to injured workers and bystanders.

If you contact an underground natural gas pipeline, report the incident to Alliant Energy or your local natural gas utility company immediately. Even if the pipe does not appear to be damaged, or no gas seems to be leaking, it needs to be professionally inspected by utility crews before excavation is filled back in. Even a minor scrape to a pipeline could cause major safety problems in the future.

When a natural gas pipeline is accidentally damaged by construction equipment, the gas leaks out and you may hear a hissing, blowing or roaring sound. You may also notice a gas or petroleum odor. Because natural gas is lighter than air, it rises and mixes with the air. And when mixed with air, natural gas can be explosive. To burn or explode, natural gas needs an ignition source. Examples of ignition sources include open flames, electrical sparks, mechanical sparks and static electricity discharges.

If you suspect a gas leak, follow these steps:

  • Shut off any equipment quickly (e.g., backhoe, trencher, etc.)
  • Do not try to stop a gas leak.
  • Remove all ignition sources, if it can be done safely.
  • Do not use electrical switches or other devices that may create a spark, including cellular telephones.
  • Leave the equipment and get away from escaping gas immediately.
  • Warn workers to evacuate the area and others to stay away from the area.
  • Remain upwind at a safe distance.
  • Call Alliant Energy or your local natural gas utility company immediately.
  • Call 911 from a safe distance.

Here are some specific tools to help contractors and excavators.

Call Before You Dig
Calling 811 before you dig can be the difference between a successful project and serious accident, possibly with injuries.

One-Call Centers

Downloads

Contractor Safety Handbook

Gas Service Information Manual [PDF]

Links

Common Ground Alliance

Pipeline Safety Trust

Contractors

Trade Allies

Are you also a natural gas customer? If you have natural gas service at your home, don’t forget to read about all the important safety messages for using natural gas safely, no matter where you are.