Worker deaths prompt reminder to 'call before you dig'

June 17, 2010

The Department of Transportation on Tuesday issued a reminder about the hazards of underground digging following two fatal incidents involving excavation workers and high-pressure energy pipelines.

In a press release, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood encouraged construction workers, highway contractors and others involved in digging activities to call 811 before starting a project.

Excavation damage was the leading cause of major pipeline incidents between 2000 and 2009, resulting in 38 fatalities, 158 injuries and $196 million in properly damage, the release said.

Last week in Texas, three workers died in two separate incidents during which workers unintentionally struck natural gas pipes.

DOT said that when excavators call 811 to identify areas for planned digging, utility companies can send crews to mark the exact location of utilities to help prevent unintentional contact.