Articles Posted in Utility Accidents

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The National Safety Council wants to remind us all that April is Safe Digging Month.

Our Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers want you to “Call Before You Dig”. Whether you are a homeowner planting a tree or a contractor building an addition, you need to know what is below to avoid a potentially deadly accident.
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“Spring is the time many of us take on outdoor projects and home improvements. We need to remember that there can be danger just below our feet. That is the reason we need to call 811 before beginning any type of digging, whether we are planting petunias, installing a sprinkler system, fence posts, mail boxes or building a deck.” Georgia 811’s President and CEO Claudette Campbell said.

The 811 hotline was created to protect our underground utility infrastructure from being damaged by digging projects. Common Ground Alliance (CGA) is the group specifically created to work with all industries in this effort. The 8-1-1 campaign was launched to increase the public’s awareness of the dangers of damaging underground utility lines.

811 is an easy means of getting your underground utility lines marked before starting your digging project. All you need to do is tell the call center operator about your digging project, in turn, they will call your local utility companies. Within a few days of your call your underground cables and pipes will be marked for you.

Universal colors mark your utilities including red for electric and yellow for gas. A complete list of color markings can be found here.

Don’t take the chance of not calling 811, you could be held responsible for fines and repair costs if you damage an underground utility line. Knocking out power to an entire neighborhood is also a possibility. It goes without saying that hitting a gas line could have disastrous consequences to you and those around you.

Georgia’s 811 four Dig Safely practices include:

-Call before you dig.
-Wait the required amount of time for marking.
-Respect the marks.
-Dig with care.

Georgia 811 local information can be seen here.
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A Cairo utility worker was killed recently in a Georgia work accident when a gas line exploded. Another worker was badly injured when the leaking gas line erupted in a residential area, NBC 10 News reported.

Wendell Harrison, the Cairo gas employee killed in the blast, was honored with flags at half-staff. The state public service commission said it could be months before investigators announce what caused the blast. A spokesman for the Georgia Public Service Commission said such blasts are not common. Then he noted a previous blast occurred in north Georgia earlier this year but was caused by arson.
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The GPSC said its final report will include the cause of the explosion, any safety violations, and whether any fines will be levied against the City of Cairo.

Several high-profile gas-line explosions have made news recently, including the rupture of the San Bruno gas line in California that burned through an entire neighborhood. But employee injury by fire or explosion is still relatively rare. In 2009, three of Georgia’s fatal work injuries were caused by fire or explosion, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nationwide, 256 city employees were killed, more than the combined total number of deaths involving state (75) and federal (116) employees.

Many utility employees work for private industry, including phone companies, cable companies and electric companies. In each case, employers have an obligation to provide the proper safety equipment and training to keep employees safe while on the job. Employees who are injured are entitled to Georgia workers’ compensation benefits for medical expenses and lost wages. Such benefits are available to an injured employee regardless of whether he or she was at fault for an on-the-job accident.

Additionally, third-party claims permit someone who has been injured or killed through the negligence of a third-party, such as a property owner or sub contractor, to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in order to collect damages.
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