Damage to natural gas lines comes at a serious cost

Did you know that 78 percent of damages to underground infrastructure in Ontario are caused by contractors? Striking a natural gas line can delay projects, interrupt natural gas service and put crews and the public at risk.

Municipalities take on significant liability and obligations when they hire contractors to perform work on their behalf. As you move through the bidding process, be sure to prioritize and communicate the importance of excavating safely. Damages to natural gas lines can also add up in substantial costs for repair, lost productivity and dispatching of emergency services.

Striking a natural gas line can cause serious and costly damage

Injury to crews and members of the public.

Expensive legal and repair costs, serious penalties and charges.

Lost productivity due to project delays.

Contract terminations.

Interruption of natural gas service to businesses and homes.

By law, contractors must follow these steps before excavating

Submit a locate request

A foreperson or project manager must visit OntarioOneCall.ca or call 1-800-400-2255 at least five business days before starting excavation.

Wait for buried lines to be marked

Locators from each underground infrastructure owner will come out to mark the job site with locate flags or temporary paint. Enbridge Gas locates are only valid for 60 days.

Respect the marks and dig safely

Once locates have been made, contractors must follow the instructions and proper excavation practices to ensure a safe and smooth project.

Learn from these incidents

Why is it so important to dig safely around natural gas lines, even with a locate? Hear directly from professional excavators, contractors and damage inspectors about what can go wrong—and why it’s not worth the risk.

Tips to promote a culture of safety on municipal projects

Build safety protocol into procurement

Include clear language in contracts and bid opportunities that defines municipal health and safety policies, compliance requirements and responsibilities of all contracted companies.

Add termination clauses to contracts

Many municipalities stipulate that contracts will be terminated if contractors don’t follow safe excavation practices. Many also prohibit companies from bidding on projects for a certain number of years following a termination.

Prioritize safety over time on job sites

Ensure contractors build enough time into their process to allow for locates. If contractors raise doubts about paint markings compared to information on a locate sheet, encourage them to take extra time to be diligent and thorough before excavating.

Collaborate closely with Enbridge Gas

Our Damage Prevention team works closely with municipalities across Ontario to support contractors. They’ll help verify locates, access maps and infrastructure records and visit job sites to work collaboratively in the best interest of everyone involved.

Become a certified expert to add value to your company

Sign up for Ontario One Call’s online Professional Locate Administrator Course (PLAC). Through nine interactive modules, you’ll learn how to effectively manage locates and keep your crew and your community safe.

Blocked sewers and cross bore safety—call before you clear

If homeowners or contractors are dealing with blocked sewers or flooding, it's important that they understand the potential risks to public safety, including a gas leak, fire or explosion.

Before they attempt to clear a sewer blockage, they must contact Ontario One Call at 1-800-400-2255 for a free natural gas sewer safety inspection. These inspections are treated as emergency calls so they can be resolved as quickly as possible.

Underground natural gas pipelines unintentionally installed through sewer or septic pipes are called cross bores. Left undisturbed, cross bores aren’t an immediate safety risk. However, they can result in a dangerous natural gas leak if equipment used to unclog sewer or septic pipes (rotating or water jet equipment) damages the natural gas line.

Signs that a natural gas line has been damaged could include bubbling water, a hissing sound, natural gas smell (rotten eggs) and blowing dirt.

What to do if you damage a natural gas line or smell gas

  • Stop work and shut off all tools, machinery or equipment.
  • Clear everyone from the area.
  • Call 911.
  • Contact Enbridge Gas immediately at 1-866-763-5427.
  • Do not attempt to control or stop the gas from escaping.

Are you a contractor?

Hitting an underground utility can delay your project and put your crew, company and community at serious risk. Learn how to excavate safely to prevent injury, fines and penalties.