Governor Holcomb proclaims April Safe Digging Month; IURC launches gas safety map, reminds all Hoosiers to contact 811 before starting any digging projects

Last Updated on April 1, 2021 by cassnetwork

SOURCE: News release from Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission

INDIANAPOLIS – Governor Eric J. Holcomb issued a proclamation declaring April as Safe Digging Month in Indiana. The proclamation serves as a reminder that Hoosiers can help keep Indiana’s communities safe by contacting 811 in advance of any excavation project and by digging carefully. 

As part of this recognition, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) has launched a gas safety dashboard to help visualize trends from the data collected by the IURC’s Pipeline Safety Division during gas line damage investigations.

“This new dashboard will allow our Pipeline Safety Division to track damage trends across Indiana and affect positive safety changes in a new, more targeted way,” said IURC Chairman Jim Huston. “I’m grateful to the team at the Management Performance Hub (MPH) for helping us create this user-friendly tool to bring increased transparency to excavators, utilities, and members of the public.”

This dashboard, called the Indiana Gas Line Damages Map, takes the data collected from the 2,000-plus gas line damages that occur in the state every year, and gives users an opportunity to sort and visualize that data based on a number of fields. These include the type of excavator involved in the damage, what county it occurred in and when, method of excavation, work performed, and more. Users can also stack search functions to find out, for example, how many damages occurred by mechanized equipment in a specific area or region of the state.

The data included on this dashboard only includes those cases that have been fully adjudicated by the IURC. That means that after a damage to a gas line occurs, the IURC’s Pipeline Safety Division investigates whether there is a violation of the Indiana 811 law. If there is a violation, the case goes before the Underground Plant Protection Advisory Committee (UPPAC) to determine a penalty. That penalty recommendation then goes before the IURC to approve or deny the recommended penalty. Once a decision is made by the IURC, the case is considered adjudicated and the damage will appear on the map. Because this system of accountability can take several months to complete, more recent damages will not appear immediately on the map.

The Indiana Gas Line Damages Map was created in partnership with the MPH, a state agency that provides analytics solutions tailored to address complex management and policy questions enabling improving outcomes for Hoosiers. MPH combines a collaborative and innovative approach with industry-leading technical innovation to facilitate data-driven decision making and data-informed policy making.

The IURC also reminds those involved in excavation work that www.SafeDigIndiana.com is a free safety training resource created to help protect workers from injury and utilities from damage. The site includes training courses, which are open to any individual wanting to learn more about best working practices and how the Indiana 811 law and the 811 system affects them. The website also includes a link for the Safe Dig Indiana | Local Grant application which helps local government employees attend training and education programs involving utility safety practices. More information about the grant, including a list of approved training and education programs, can be found at www.SafeDigIndiana.com.