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April , 2017
For Release: Immediately
"Call Before You Dig" To Avoid Accidental Contact With Utility Lines

Accidental contact with underground utilities by excavators can cause serious consequences, including property damage, interruption of critical services, injury and even death. That is why April is designated as national Dig Safely Month, to remind anyone planning to dig to first call 811, the toll-free Dig Safely hotline, so that underground utility lines and facilities can be marked and properly identified prior to the start of excavation.

“Nearly all of the essential services provided to residences and businesses in the Hudson Valley can be located underground, including electric, gas, water, sewer and communications,” said Central Hudson Senior Vice President of Customer Services and Transmission & Distribution Operations Charles A. Freni. “Before digging, even by hand, play it safe and call 811, to ensure underground lines are identified. Making the call is the law, and damaging underground systems can be costly, inconvenient to those whose services are interrupted and potentially harmful to the excavator and public. So plan ahead and take a minute to make the right call.”

Before excavating, New York residents and contactors must first dial 811, a toll-free national calling service that connects excavators to their regional or statewide One-Call center, at least two to 10 days before digging. Making the call is required by law, and the service alerts utilities, municipalities and other parties that operate underground facilities of the intention to excavate at specific sites so that underground utility lines can be properly marked. There is no charge for the service, and utility crews will locate and mark lines at no cost to the caller.

Freni explained that these regulations are designed to protect excavators, the public and owners of underground lines. “Even homeowners and anyone planning to dig by hand must also first call 811, as a shovel has the same potential to cause as much damage and serious injury as a large machine.”

Once the lines are marked, workers must still exercise caution by respecting the “tolerance zone,” an area two feet to either side of marked lines where mechanized equipment cannot be used until the underground facility is uncovered by hand digging. Excavators must also understand the nature of the underground facilities at their work location. “A moment of inattentiveness can result in injury, damage or worse, so workers must remain focused when excavating,” Freni said.

This year, Central Hudson is mailing safety information to more than 8,000 contractors, municipalities, businesses and organizations that may have the potential to excavate or work near underground and overhead lines, and offering free additional training materials for their employees to promote safety while working near utility lines. “We want these organizations to take advantage of this free offer, as the information can potentially save lives and help avoid damage to critical utility lines,” said Freni.

When working near utility underground or overhead lines, excavators and construction crews are always encouraged to contact Central Hudson and meet with a representative to review plans and discuss ways in which to work safely. Other recommended steps include:

  • Establishing a communications plan with workers to inform them of the location and potential hazards of utility lines in the area;
  • Creating a boundary around areas to be avoided, including guy wires, service lines, gas and electric meters, pad-mounted transformers and other facilities by using cones or tape;
  • Keeping a safe distance from overhead utility facilities, at least 10 feet from local power lines and 25 feet or more from high-voltage transmission lines. Workers should carry ladders, pipes and other long objects horizontally rather than vertically and should wear appropriate safety gear.
  • If contact is made with gas or electric utility lines, call 911 and never attempt to make any repairs or adjustments to utility facilities.
  • If a gas odor is detected, remember to ‘Stop. Go. Let Us Know’ by stopping all activities, evacuating all workers and others from the immediate vicinity and calling 911 and Central Hudson’s Gas Odor Response hotline at 1-800-942-8274 to report the odor.

Additional information about the Dig Safely New York One-Call system and requirements for excavating near marked lines is available at www.DigSafelyNewYork.com; information on the 811 service is available at www.call811.com; click here to see a video by the American Gas Association on natural gas safety for children; and to learn more about contractor safety and working near utility lines, call Central Hudson at (845) 452-2700 or 1-800-527-2714, or visit www.CentralHudson.com/safety/digsafely.

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Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation is a regulated transmission and distribution utility serving approximately 380,000 customers in portions of eight counties of New York State's Mid-Hudson River Valley; it delivers natural gas and electricity in a 2,600-square-mile service territory that extends from the suburbs of metropolitan New York City north to the Capital District at Albany. Its mission is to deliver electricity and natural gas to an expanding customer base in a safe, reliable, courteous and affordable manner; to produce growing financial returns for its owner; to foster a culture that encourages employees to reach their full potential; and to be a good corporate citizen. Visit www.CentralHudson.com for more information. 

 

Central Hudson became the first American utility subsidiary of Canadian holding company Fortis Inc. in June 2013.   Fortis is a leader in the North American utility industry with assets of approximately $48 billion and 2016 revenue of $6.8 billion. Its regulated utility companies serve more than three million customers across Canada, the United States and the Caribbean. Visit www.Fortisinc.com for additional information.