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Posted on 30 April, 2019

1 Dead, 25 Injured after avoidable gas line strike


A gas line strike killed 1 and injured 25. Image courtesy of abc11.

Why do utility line strikes happen when we have the technology to avoid them? Utility locating services are not a new service, and there has been more than enough awareness campaigns run about them. Really, what excuses are there to not ensure your workers are safe to dig? When does the chance of electrocution, gas explosions or flooding outweigh the effort of identifying the location of underground utilities?

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Excavating around a utility line without comprehensive information is like playing russian roulette, will you or won’t you end up in the ICU today? If you don’t think we’re being serious did you hear about the catastrophic damage from a gas line strike in the US that happened earlier this month? It’s alleged a contractor doing fiber installations hit a gas line, which later led to an explosion that destroyed and damaged a number of buildings. One person died and 25 people were injured, with five being sent to the hospital. That’s not counting the firefighters who, after being injured in the explosion, continued to rescue those trapped.

But hey, that’s in the US, we have better codes of practise here don’t we? Well sure we may have better codes of practise but they are broad ranging, designed for the entire construction industry and are up to the interpretation of the project’s safety officer. A diligent safety officer would include a utility location scan, and further non-destructive investigations if needed, to ensure the safety of their workers.

After almost 20 years in the industry we have yet to hear a good enough excuse for not using utility location be honest, there isn’t one to be found. What we have heard, is way too many close calls including operators scratching utilities, missing them by centimetres, or worse, striking a line. If it’s a water line, sure there’s not too much damage, except to your budget and your project timeline being extended. Hit a telecommunication line and you’ve just made everyone in that street, and the telco that owns that line really mad. Strike a gas line and you’re in trouble. Not only are you going to need to evacuate the job site immediately but the entire block will need to be evacuated, because we’ve already established the devastating effects of a spark too close to leaking gas.


Utility locating services literally save lives. 

What we haven’t yet talked about is the costs of line strikes. Anyone who’s had a site shut down because of a line strike can tell you how the costs can pile up. Losing a day, week or month on site can jeopardize the entire project. If any workers were injured, which is highly likely, there’s the medical costs and insurance payouts to account for. Then there’s any broken machinery that may need repairs.

Now compare the cost of your job budget blowing out or the risks to human life, with a simple and relatively cheap utility scan.

Here at VAC Group, our in house team of industry leading utility locators are fully equipped with the latest technology in ground penetrating radar, purpose built for the Australian landscape. After stealing his Grandmother’s electric scooter, our head engineer manufactured a GPR device - known as The Latro - that can easily scan pavement, footpaths, parks and any area accessible by foot.

For the more robust projects such as highway construction, we call in the big guns - The Sparas. Using the exact same technology as The Latro, The Sparas is another piece of innovative technology built at our state of the art facility in Yatala. Mounted on a trailer and with on board vision, The Sparas has the ability to map out utilities at a speed of 100km/h, mitigating the need for road closures for scanning purposes.


Potholing is a non-destructive excavation method that provides visual confirmation of utilities.

Contact VAC Group today!

If you are looking for reliable vacuum excavation, utility location and non-destructive digging services in Australia, give us a call on 1300 822 834. We’re always happy to answer any questions you might have about our Vac-U-Diggas vehicles for sale or about our vacuum excavation service offerings.

For more information on our asset detection services, click here. 

Contact VAC Group today to arrange a personalised obligation-free quote.

82 Union Cct, Yatala QLD 4207

VAC Group is Australia’s leaders in non-destructive digging, vacuum excavation, utility locating and underground services protection.




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