If You Contact a Utility Dig Safely Home< Back


There’s no such thing as minor damage to utilities.
What looks like a small nick in a gas, sewer, electricity, or water line can result in a major health and fire hazard to the surrounding neighborhood. And damaged phone lines or fiber optic cables can disrupt 911 emergency service.

Never bury a damaged utility.
Trying to cover up an accident can be dangerous, and can lead to costly damages or criminal charges against you and your company. Take the following steps instead.

In case of electrical contact:

  • If you can do so safely, move the equipment away from the line.
  • If there is not a threat to your safety (such as fire), stay on the equipment until utility workers say it is safe to get off.
  • Warn others away. Anyone who touches the equipment or even the ground nearby may be injured or killed.
  • Have someone call 911 and PG&E immediately.

If fire or other danger forces you off, jump clear, keeping both feet together and without touching the ground and the equipment at the same time. Shuffle away with small steps, keeping your feet close together and on the ground. Or, hop away on two feet, keeping both feet together.

In case of gas pipeline contact:

  • Leave equipment (don’t turn off engines or generators) and leave the area immediately; move to a safe location. Dial 911 and call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.
  • Warn others to stay away.
  • Do not attempt to extinguish a natural gas fire.
  • Do not operate any gas pipeline valves or stop the flow of gas.
  • Leave the excavation open.
  • Do not light a match, start an engine, or operate a phone.
  • Do not operate electric devices such as switches, door bells, radios, televisions, lights, appliances, and garage openers.
  • Cal/OSHA requires you report all contacts. Even a small nick or scratch can eventually rupture the line, endangering others.

If you accidentally contact a gas line, immediately call 911 and PG&E.


In the event of any type of utility contact, take appropriate safety steps and notify your supervisor and the utility immediately.









Learn the warning signs of
a gas pipeline leak:

PG&E adds mercaptan, a highly recognizable sulfur-like odor, to natural gas to assist in leak detection. But don’t rely on your nose alone. Be alert for any of these gas leak warning signs:

  • A sulfur-like or rotten-egg smell
  • A hissing or roaring sound
  • Dirt spraying or blowing into the air
  • Continual bubbling in water
  • Grass/plants dead or dying for no apparent reason