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Warning to tradespeople – three injured in gas fire after main damaged on building site

28 May 2013

Workers and tradesmen are reminded of the dangers of digging and excavating near gas mains after a recent incident at Heidelberg Heights.

Three people were taken to hospital with burns after workers excavating in the front yard of a building site damaged the gas service pipe with a small (1.5 tonne) excavator.

The operator immediately shut off the excavator, and in an effort to temporarily stem the flow of gas, he and two other people entered the trench to attempt a squash-off on the pipe with a battery operated crimping tool. The tool caused ignition and the gas continued to burn until the gas company attended and isolated the gas flow at the main.

Before you start work

Always contact 1100 (Dial Before You Dig) to request information on the location of gas assets before commencing any excavation works.

Dial Before You Dig does not approve works to be undertaken in the vicinity of gas infrastructure. Gas companies will have their own Conditions of Work (which may require specific job approvals) that must be followed before any third party works in the vicinity of their assets can commence.

Gas emergency – steps to follow

In the event of a gas leak, fire or explosion:

  • Remove and/or switch off all ignition sources in the immediate area i.e. extinguish cigarettes and naked flames, turn off electrical motors, power tools, mobile phones and battery operated equipment. DO NOT turn off diesel-powered plant and machinery, or restart it, until instructed it is safe to do so by an appointed gas officer from the gas company or an identified member of the emergency services.
  • Determine the wind direction and move away from the immediate gas escape area towards the source of the wind. Move at least 100m (approximately six residential houses) to where the area is open and air is freely circulating. If you have been incapacitated and are unable to safely move away, have someone outside the immediate area contact 000 and request assistance.
  • Contact 132 771 and report details of the gas escape or alternatively, contact 000 if other services or infrastructure have been affected and/or if injury or property damage has occurred.
  • Wait for the emergency services and/or the gas company’s emergency team to arrive on site.
  • Where possible, keep access to the immediate area clear for emergency services and gas emergency response vehicles and restrict onlookers and other non-emergency vehicles from entering the area.
  • DO NOT attempt to evacuate houses or premises adjacent to the gas escape unless directed to do so by emergency service personnel or an appointed gas officer from the gas company. Close all exterior doors, windows and vents, and ensure that heating and cooling systems are turned off.
  • When the gas company’s emergency response team arrives on site, co-operate and do as instructed. You will be advised when it is safe to re-enter the immediate area.