Local contractors attended excavation safety training Wednesday

Columbia Gas and MUST held training Wednesday

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Call before you dig. It’s a saying you’ve probably heard before.

With spring just weeks away, contractors will soon start digging outside for projects across the state. Columbia Gas in conjunction with the organization MUST, or Managing Underground Safety Training, stressed the importance of safe excavation to more than 100 local contractors Wednesday morning.

“A lot of people run into underground utilities without contacting Dig Safe first,” Lisa Powers of Dig Safe said. “It’s important for them to know how to work safely around gas lines and electric lines when they do that for their own job. The big message for those folks is if you do see cast iron in the ground or anything that doesn’t look right, please communicate that too.”

According to state records, from November 2012 through the end of 2015, 1434 gas line accidents were reported to the state. That’s more than one per day.

The state penalizes companies that hit gas lines, and the fines for doing so range from $1000 to $7000.

One contractor told 22News he brings his employees to events like this one each year, not because the Dig Safe law is constantly changing, but because he wants his employees to constantly be aware of it.

“You have new employees so you want the new employees to get updated and the older employees to get more knowledgeable,” Luis Santos of Baltazar Contractors said. “They learn everyday. You need to be up to date on all the rules and regulations, so our employees are safe in what they do and they come home at the end of the day.”

This training is not mandatory for contractors, but was offered to them for free Wednesday.