Contractor and Excavator Safety

Help Everyone Live Safely With Natural Gas Pipelines

Natural gas is known as one of the safest, most reliable and resilient energy in use today. Over 2.6 million miles of underground pipelines bring natural gas to millions of homes, businesses and industries throughout the United States. Okaloosa Gas District is responsible for keeping a portion of this system safe. That’s why, in addition to the following state and federal pipeline safety regulations, we perform extensive quality control checks, educate residents how to recognize and prevent natural gas leaks and work closely with emergency and public officials to develop emergency response plans.

Beware! Call 811 Before you Dig! It's the Law

Okaloosa Gas is appealing to all excavators, including government agencies, construction firms, landscaping companies, homebuilders and land developers, to remind them of safe digging practices. By law, all organizations, individuals and/or businesses planning any digging, ditching, drilling, leveling or plowing must contact Sunshine State One Call at 811 at least 48 hours beforehand. Natural gas pipelines will then be located and marked with bright, highly visible yellow markers, free of charge. In addition, when excavating near a transmission line, a representative from Okaloosa Gas District must be present.

While most transmission pipelines are buried in rural, undeveloped areas, the growing population and expansion have prompted more construction activity in and around these areas. To protect the safety of residents and the environment, and to allow our company to maintain the system, a pipeline’s Right of Way (ROW) must be kept clear of trees, buildings and other structures. If any damage to District facilities including nicks, scrapes, gouges, cut tracer wire and undermining of existing facilities, please report the damage directly to the District for investigation and proper repair initiatives. We know that most professional excavators in our community obey the law and call before they dig. These trained professionals can partner with our company to keep our communities safe by reporting any suspicious activity at or near their job sites. If you do notice suspicious activity, call us at 850-729-4700. Then call 911.

Understand the New Law and how it could impact you

Effective July 1, 2020, the Underground Facility Damage Prevention an Safety Act, Chapter 556, Florida Statutes, introduced higher penalties for violations involving gas facilities, investigations of gas facility damages that result in incidents by the Florida Fire Marshal, new protections for permanent markers, new violation for digging in the tolerance zone and more.

Click here to download the Understanding 2020 Legislation Changes presentation. 
Click here for  556.107 Violations
Click here for 556.108 Exemptions

Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:
  • LOOK. Near a gas leak, you may notice blowing dirt, bubbling creeks or ponds, dry spots in moist areas or dead plants surrounded by live, green plants.

  • LISTEN. An unusual hissing sound near a natural gas appliance or line may indicate a leak.

  • SMELL. Natural gas utility companies add a harmless substance called mercaptan to the normally odorless fuel to create a rotten-egg-like smell. Note that gas flowing through transmission lines may not be treated with this substance yet.

  • If you spot or smell a leak, don’t try to stop it or use anything that could create a spark—not even a cell phone, flashlight, etc. Instead, LEAVE THE AREA completely and then call Okaloosa Gas at 850-729-4700. If the smell of gas is particularly strong, call 9-1-1 as well.

  • If you hit a gas line, call our company immediately, even if there appears to be no damage. Then, call 9-1-1.

If you contact or damage a buried pipeline

  • Ignore it  

  • Attempt to repair it  

  • Bury, hide or perform any backfilling in the immediate area


  • Immediately notify Okaloosa Gas District of the contact or damage, even if you can’t see any damage

  • Stop all excavation in the immediate area that could cause further harm to the pipeline, until the operator advises you to proceed

  • If the contact or damage causes an emergency involving danger to life, health, or property, you must immediately:

    • Evacuate your employees and all other endangered persons from the immediate vicinity, to the best of your ability.

    • Call 911 and provide:
      a. Exact location of the emergency
      b. Type of underground utility affected

Know the Tolerance Zone

BE AWARE – Pipeline Markers DO NOT:

  • Indicate an exact location

  • Designate a straight line between markers

  • Specify facility depth 

  • Signal the number of pipelines or utilities in an area


  • Underground utilities owned by the customer of those located in dense population areas may not be marked and additional steps may be necessary before any digging occurs.

Help prevent cross bores

During the process of cleaning out a sewer pipeline, be alert to any unusual conditions, which may include:

  • Hissing sounds

  • Natural gas odor

  • Blowing dirt

  • Bubbling water

If you suspect a natural gas leak or that contact with a natural gas line has occurred:

  • Stop all work, leave the premises immediately and instruct others to leave the premises immediately

  • Contact Okaloosa Gas from a safe location at 850-729-4700 or 1-800-239-3878

  • Call 911

  • Keep others a safe distance away

  • Do not operate any equipment

  • Eliminate any source of ignition

  • Do not operate any pipeline equipment or facility

If you suspect a cross bore:

  • Call Okaloosa Gas immediately at 850-729-4700 or 800-239-3878

  • We will inspect the situation at no charge

Tolerance Zone of a utility line is 24" on either side

The excavation guide is designed to be a reference for readers to use all year long. The articles are concise, to the point and focus on current industry trends and technologies. The resources include the Common Ground Alliances Excavation Best Practices, a complete One Call Center listing along with the state laws and provisions. Click on excavation guide to review.

Excavation Safety Guide and Directory

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Ask Us About Pipeline Safety Training - It's FREE! 

Pipeline Safety Training is available to all public officials, public safety and emergency first responders, excavators and other utility contractors. For more information about seminars and training opportunities, call Okaloosa Gas District at 850-729-4700



To identify operators of major gas pipelines in your area and view maps with the general locations of these pipelines, visit the link in Online Resources below: 


Call before you Dig
Common Ground Alliance 
Federal Office of Pipeline Safety
National Response Center
National Pipeline Mapping System
Pipeline Public Awareness 

To become familiar with the smell of natural gas, stop by our office for a FREE scratch and sniff pamphlet to share with your employees.

Scratch & Sniff