OVERLAND PARK, KS – Kansas Gas Service is urging contractors to exercise enhanced vigilance to ensure safe digging. 

“We are asking for the public’s help to help ensure everyone follows safe digging guidelines,” says Tony VanSchuyver, director of operations, Kansas Gas Service. “Excavation done without having lines marked can lead to outages that are easily avoided with a call to 811.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, damage to pipelines due to excavation could result in lengthy outages for residents sheltering in place or working from home. Utilities, following the CDC guidelines, want to avoid unnecessary personal contact for local emergency responders, their employees and customers during this period of physical distancing – a goal that becomes more difficult if technicians are required to re-light customers’ appliances after an avoidable excavation damage. In addition, under certain circumstances, technicians may not be able to go into a home or business to restore gas service during this time.

Underground utility lines can be anywhere, including residential yards, sidewalks, driveways, streets, rights-of-way, fields, creeks and other water crossings.

This brief, one-minute video reiterates the need for vigilance and calling 811 before starting any digging project.

To help excavators avoid damage to underground lines and promote awareness, Kansas Gas Service has created a dedicated web page (KansasGasService.com/excavators) which includes videos, resources, damage prevention laws and safe digging tips.

Kansas Gas Service offers the following five safe digging tips:

  • Call 811: Call 811 or submit a request online before your excavation at least two full business days before the project starts.
  • Verify the Marks Are Fresh and Complete: Ensure the markings are not from someone else’s work or a previous project. Verify all utilities have marked their lines and wait for confirmation that marks are complete.
  • Respect the Tolerance Zone: The tolerance zone is the area located 24 inches on either side of the pipeline. Respect the tolerance zone by using only non-mechanized equipment to ensure a safe dig.
  • Dig within the Project Area: By calling 811, the project area can be defined and helps ensure digging occurs within that zone.
  • Smell Gas, Act Fast!: Make sure to leave the area immediately then call 911 and Kansas Gas Service at 888-482-4950 if there is a smell of gas.