Category Archives: safety

Lisa O'Leary AGA Members Draw Awareness to Safe Digging on 811 Day

On August 11, the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) once again commemorated National 811 Day to promote safe digging practices and the Call Before You Dig campaign. No matter the type and size of digging project – from installing a mailbox to building a patio or deck, it is always critical  to call 811 several days prior to digging to identify the approximate location of underground utility lines, including natural gas. Excavation damage continues to be the leading cause of natural gas pipeline incidents across the country, though improvements are being made thanks to the education and outreach by CGA, local natural gas utilities and other stakeholders.

Each year on 811 Day, the American Gas Association’s (AGA’s) member companies work to educate their customers and the communities they serve about the importance of calling 811 before digging. The following highlights showcase many of the activities AGA’s members and partners participated in to help raise awareness about calling 811:

Image Credit: PHMSA

Image Credit: PHMSA

Throughout the month of July, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) took over the Navy Yard/Nationals Park Metro station in Washington, D.C. with 811 banners, posters and other signage.

Image Courtesy of CGA

Image Courtesy of CGA

On August 6, DOT and PMSA hosted a pre-baseball game event at the Washington Nationals’ stadium with Deputy Secretary of Transportation Victor Mendez and this year’s winner of Energy Safe Kids’ annual 811 poster contest. Safe digging procedures and Call 811 were promoted during all five baseball games prior to August 11, most notably on a banner directly behind home plate.

Image Credit: CenterPoint Energy

Image Credit: CenterPoint Energy

CenterPoint Energy in Houston, TX hosted a downtown block party complete with food and prizes, while the utility’s Minnesota branch teamed up with marking companies for the annual 811 5k Run/Walk followed by a kids fun run, awards ceremony, prizes and safety fair. All proceeds from the 5k benefitted Operation Warm, an organization that provides warm winter coats to children in need.

Image Credit: CGA

Image Credit: AGA

Pacific Gas & Electric, along with CGA and other stakeholders, had the honor of ringing the New York Stock Exchange closing bell in front of a large Call 811 banner on 8/11. Click here to watch the archived video from the event.

columbia gas 811 cake

Image Credit: Columbia Gas of PA

Things got a little wild at the Washington Wild Things baseball game on 8/11 thanks to Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania. Tickets were just $8.11 and Digger Dog threw out the first pitch.  In addition to the game, Columbia Gas distributed special 811-themed cakes  to local radio stations to help drive awareness during the morning commute and online.

Image Credit: Victor Espinoza/Twitter

Image Credit: Victor Espinoza/Twitter

Call 811-sponsored jockey and Triple Crown winner Victor Espinoza once again took to his Twitter page to remind customers to call 811 before beginning any digging projects, big or small.

In addition to 811 Day, the month of April is National Safe Digging Month (NSDM). As part of their ongoing commitment to safety, AGA member companies air PSAs and TV spots, host events and contests, and carry out social media campaigns to promote safe digging. If you are a natural gas utility, let us know about future Call 811 activities in the comments section below. We’d love to hear what your utility has in the works and to share your activities on AGA’s social media pages and blog. You can also email loleary@aga.org.

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Christina Nyquist Joining Together to Elevate Natural Gas Delivery – More than 2,000 Attend 2015 AGA Operations Conference & Biennial Exhibition

From May 19-22, more than 2,000 attendees gathered in Grapevine, Texas for four days, more than 120 presentations and sessions, and more than 200 exhibitions – all focused on delivering our nation’s domestic abundance of natural gas even more safely, reliably, efficiently and affordably.

The annual AGA Operations Conference is the premiere gathering for the natural gas utility industry, providing a forum for operations professionals and experts from AGA’s more than 200 member companies throughout North America to come together and discuss current issues, share best practices and work toward raising the performance of the industry nationwide. This year, the Operations Conference coincided with the Biennial Exhibition, which featured a record 218 exhibitions showcasing the latest in natural gas utility technology and innovation.

ops conf post_mccallister

AGA Chairman Terry McCallister, Chairman, President & CEO of WGL Holdings, Inc. and Washington Gas addresses AGA Operations Conference attendees in Grapevine, Texas.

A Focus on Safety

This year, safety remained the core theme of the conference, with topics covering excavation damage prevention, disaster response, pipeline maintenance and materials, emissions measurement, environmental management, worker safety, workforce development and more. AGA member company executives discussed safety culture and gave an update on the new voluntary national AGA Peer Review Program. Attendees also heard presentations selected from AGA’s Best Practices Program on topics including infrastructure replacement programs at Consumers Energy, damage prevention at Washington Gas and redefining leak management at Pacific Gas & Electric.

AGA Operations Conference attendees participated in more than 120 presentations, panels and discussions on enhancing the safety and performance of natural gas operations.

AGA Operations Conference attendees participated in more than 120 presentations, panels and discussions on enhancing the safety and performance of natural gas operations.

Recognizing Excellence

AGA awarded 21 companies with Safety Achievement Awards in both worker and vehicle safety, and presented individual awards for contributions to natural gas operations including emissions management, using GPS technology to map infrastructure and enhance records management, and furthering research and development in safety, delivery, design, construction, maintenance, operations and efficiency. AGA also granted the first annual AGA Safety Awareness Video Excellence Award to Atmos Energy for their video, “Do you Dig It? Always Call Before You Dig.”

 Recipients of the 2015 AGA Safety Achievement Award

Recipients of the 2015 AGA Safety Achievement Award

Saving Lives

Natural gas utility employees serve their communities every day, in all weather, often going above and beyond their basic duties. Every year, AGA recognizes a member company employee who “has performed the most meritorious act in the gas industry in saving a human life during the prior year.” This year, AGA presented the Meritorious Service Award to Kacee Rogers of SourceGas, who rescued a woman after she had lost control of her vehicle and drove into a frozen pond. Rogers’ heroic action is an example of the qualities so often seen in natural gas utility employees – quick action, selflessness, a calm demeanor and a desire to help. Every day, local utility employees put those qualities to work, helping to ensure that homes and businesses can safely access the energy they need when they need it.

AGA Chairman Terry McCallister, Chairman, President & CEO of WGL Holdings, Inc. and Washington Gas presents Kacee Rogers of SourceGas with the 2015 AGA Meritorious Service Award.

AGA Chairman Terry McCallister, Chairman, President & CEO of WGL Holdings, Inc. and Washington Gas presents Kacee Rogers of SourceGas with the 2015 AGA Meritorious Service Award.

Giving Back

Natural gas utilities are part of their local communities and are focused on service. This year, AGA staff and conference attendees continued that tradition by helping to assemble bikes with the Texas-based Bikes for Goodness Sake Foundation. The AGA team, assisted by a contribution from host utility Atmos Energy, assembled 20 bikes, which were delivered to the Grapevine Police Community Outreach Center to be distributed to local children at the start of the summer reading program.

ops conf post_bikes

AGA Staff and Operations Conference attendee volunteers pose with bikes assembled for Bikes for Goodness Sake.

By joining together and learning from each other throughout the year at events such as the Operations Conference, America’s local natural gas utilities are raising the bar and elevating the safety and performance of the entire natural gas industry. For more highlights from this year’s conference, visit us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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Lisa O'Leary Atmos Energy Receives First Annual AGA Safety Awareness Video Excellence Award

While natural gas utilities are dedicated to enhancing the safety of their operations, public awareness is a critical part of safe natural gas delivery. Finding effective ways to spread safety messages goes a long way toward ensuring that everyone can safely enjoy the benefits of natural gas.

This year, the American Gas Association (AGA) held our first annual AGA Safety Awareness Video Excellence (SAVE) Award, recognizing the outstanding contributions utilities across the country make in advancing natural gas safety communications.

(From L-R: Ronald Bradley, VP, Gas Operations, PECO Energy and AGA Operations Conference Chairman; Michael Haefner, Executive VP, Atmos Energy; Jeff Knights, VP, Technical Services - Mid-Texas Division, Atmos Energy; Christina Sames, VP, Operations & Engineering, AGA)

(From L-R: Ronald Bradley, VP, Gas Operations, PECO Energy and AGA Operations Conference Chairman; Michael Haefner, Executive VP, Atmos Energy; Jeff Knights, VP, Technical Services – Mid-Texas Division, Atmos Energy; Christina Sames, VP, Operations & Engineering, AGA)

AGA is pleased to announce the 2015 overall award recipient is Atmos Energy for their video submission, “Do You Dig It? Always Call Before You Dig”.  We’d also like to congratulate Co Serve for receiving the most public votes on AGA’s Facebook page for its “Mr. Diggs Gets the 411 on 811 (Armadillo Whisperer)” video.

AGA received many great submissions, and we encourage everyone to check them out on AGA’s YouTube channel by clicking on the “AGA Safety Video Award Submissions 2015″ playlist. Details about the 2016 SAVE Award will be posted on AGA’s website at a later date. In the meantime, share the creative ways your company is spreading natural gas safety messages in the comments section below and you may be featured in an upcoming AGA blog post.

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Lisa O'Leary Natural Gas Utilities Spread Message of Safe Digging Procedures

Call 811 Before You Dig

This April marked the eight annual National Safe Digging Month (NSDM), an initiative put in place by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) to remind professionals and homeowners to “Call 811 Before You Dig” and follow safe digging procedures to help prevent injuries, property damage and inconvenient outages. People digging often make risky assumptions about whether or not they should get their utility lines marked due to concerns about project delays, costs and previous calls about other projects. These assumptions can be life-threatening.

Every digging job requires a call – even small projects like planting trees or shrubs. To get started, dial 811 to be connected to your local One Call Center which will gather information about the project and alert your local utility company. Crews will then locate the utility lines near your planned project and make sure they are properly marked so you can be sure to avoid them. The process is fast, simple and free.

All month long, local natural gas utilities took creative steps to spread the word about safe excavation practices. Damage from construction and digging activity is the leading cause of pipeline incidents, so communicating with customers and communities about the importance of calling 811 before starting any digging project is essential to enhancing public safety.

Here are just a few of the ways AGA member companies raised awareness about safe digging in their local communities:

Piedmont Natural Gas partnered with garden centers throughout its service territory in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee to tag trees and shrubs with important reminders to “Call Before You Dig.” Piedmont Natural Gas Managing Director of Safety and Community Relations Timothy Greenhouse explained, “Calling 811 is a free, easy way to avoid the inconvenience, added cost and potential injury that can result from damaging underground utilities.” For the third consecutive year, the Gardens of Blackhawk Hardware in Charlotte, N.C., worked with Piedmont and Girl Scouts from the local Hornets’ Nest Council to ensure every tree, shrub and digging tool was properly marked with a “Call Before You Dig” tag.

PNG-Blackhawk811-12

Piedmont Natural Gas and local Girl Scouts troops teamed up to spread awareness of Call 811 at a garden center in the utility’s service territory. Photo Credit: Piedmont Natural Gas

 Atmos Energy, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, launched the “Yard Rescue 811” social media contest on its Facebook page offering customers the chance to win a $2,000 yard makeover while raising awareness of NSDM. Participants uploaded photos of their yard at home, church, school or business engaged and the photo with the most votes won.

One of many entries in Atmos Energy’s month-long “Yard Rescue 811” social media contest. Photo Credit: Atmos Energy

One of many entries in Atmos Energy’s month-long “Yard Rescue 811” social media contest. Photo Credit: Atmos Energy

In Fresno, California, Pacific Gas and Electric Corporation (PG&E) worked with a company specializing in 3D art to create a chalkboard painting outside its office that depicted what it might look like if you were to dig just a few feet beneath your yard, including a natural gas pipeline, electric power lines and other buried utilities.

Special 3D artists create realistic chalk drawing of what it may look like when you dig in your own backyard. Photo Credit: PG&E

Special 3D artists create realistic chalk drawing of what it may look like when you dig in your own backyard. Photo Credit: PG&E

PG&E also spread the message of safe digging procedures with a new television spot featuring an employee who locates and marks underground utilities for customers and contractors in its service territory:

The PG&E Damage Prevention Center hosted a free 811 Contractor Safety Training course beneficial for both novice and experienced contractors. Topics included how to use the Call 811 service, excavation laws in California and steps to planning a safe digging project.

In addition, many other natural gas utilities spread awareness about NSDM through news releases, social media, advertisements, community events and more.

By far, the largest event surrounding Call 811 was this past weekend’s 141st Kentucky Derby. Thanks to the sponsorship of CGA and more than 30 of its member organizations, renowned jockey Victor Espinoza once again sported the 811 logo as he raced to victory for the second consecutive year. A record breaking 170,000 spectators at Churchill Downs and an estimated TV audience of 15 million viewers around the world were reminded of the importance to “Call 811 Before You Dig.“ We look forward to cheering on Victor and horse American Pharaoh as they take on the next leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, on May 16. Follow AGA on Twitter and Facebook for updates about the race and Call 811.

Victor Espinoza winners circle

Victor Espinoza celebrates his second consecutive Kentucky Derby win. Photo Credit: CNN

If you’d like to share your organization’s recent event or campaign surrounding Call 811, please comment in the section below or email loleary@aga.org.  We’re happy to share your story.

Posted in 811, community, events, Natural Gas, safety | Leave a comment