Videos showcase why Austin growth calls for excavation safety demonstrations


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin is growing every day. With that growth comes construction and the potential for safety concerns if proper steps aren’t taken.

Some construction involves digging and where you dig is important.

Before you do, you’re supposed to call 811 at least two days prior so utility companies can mark where their lines are and prevent them from being damaged when digging begins, according to Christy Penders with Texas Gas Service.

“Call 811 so you don’t have to call 911,” Penders urged. 

This includes people planting a small tree in their yards, for example.

Texas Gas Service teamed up with the Austin Fire Department, Texas811, the Central Texas Damage Prevention Council and others Thursday morning to show what happens when a contractor damages a natural gas line.

The line was pressurized with air for safety but looked and sounded just like the real thing.

In 2018, throughout Texas, 8,856 natural gas lines were damaged by excavation equipment. When that happens, people can face fines, fees and repair costs.

The goals of the simulation were to:

  • promote safe digging practices such as calling 811 two business days before digging
  • demonstrate how to dig around a natural gas line safely by respecting the tolerance zone, or the area immediately surrounding the line
  • demonstrate what to do if a line is damaged, which is get out of the area and call 911

The demonstrations also included what happens when someone touches an electrical arc even with fire-resistant clothing and how to deal with a trench collapse.

Electrical arc demonstration

Trench collapse demonstration

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