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Safety Partners

In 2005, FortisBC began a partnership of utilities, municipalities and organizations that share a commitment to public and workplace safety across BC’s Southern Interior. The goal of this program is to improve public awareness of electrical and natural gas hazards—and how those hazards can be avoided.

Click through the following tabs to learn how to keep safe around natural gas and electricity:

 

 Power line safety

 
 

Electrical utility facilities

Electric utility facilities can be hazardous. Always obey warning signs, and stay outside the fenced area—barriers are there for your protection.

If you lose a ball or frisbee over an electric facility fence, don’t risk getting hurt. Call your local electrical utility to get your toy back.

 

Trees near power lines

Tree branches and power lines don’t mix. Trees can become energized if a wire comes in contact with its branches.

Hire a professional when pruning vegetation near power lines on your property, and always keep branches at least 10 metres (or 33 feet) from wires that distribute electricity to your property.

 

Look up and live

Doing some work outside or up on the roof? Before you start work, look up and make sure you and everyone working with you are aware of all overhead lines. Ladders, cranes, pipes and other equipment are good conductors of electricity. Remember, it doesn’t need to be touching a power line to become energized.

Don’t take a chance with your life. If you have to work near power lines, stay at least three metres (or 10 feet) away from overhead power lines at all times.

 

Never touch a power line

Most overhead lines are not insulated or covered. The protective coating on lines is never safe to touch—it is there to protect the line against the elements, but will not prevent electricity from being conducted to people or objects that touch it.

Remember, electricity can arc or “jump” from the wire to a conducting object like a ladder or a truck.

If you have to work near power lines, keep at least ten metres (or 33 feet) of distance between you and high voltage power lines at all times.

Don't take a chance with your life

  • Before you start working near power lines or to report a safety hazard, contact your local utility.
  • To report an electric emergency, call 911 or your local utility.
  • To report a gas emergency, call 911 or the FortisBC 24-hour emergency line at 1-800-663-9911.

Safety Partners: Nelson Hydro

Building a cooperative spirit between utilities, while delivering a consistent safety message to a broader audience were compelling reasons for Alex Love, Nelson Hydro’s general manager, to join the Safety Partners alliance: “Even though we’re different companies, we all share virtually the same safety concerns.”

One of those shared concerns is downed power lines. “Stay away from them,” Alex says. “Even if they look safe, they may become re-energized. Call your utility immediately.”

Another is the issue of dam safety. With more than 10 hydroelectric dams in the Kootenay region, knowing how to stay safe around them is quite important.

“Dams often create head ponds that look peaceful and inviting for a cool dip, but remember the flow of the river is still taking place,” Alex says. “Nobody wants to get caught in those water currents, so only swim in designated beach areas known to be safe.”

FortisBC works with all its safety partners to improve public awareness of electrical and natural gas safety. That’s energy at work.


Alex Love, general manager, Nelson Hydro


 

 Dam and reservoir safety

 

On the river this summer? Stay safe around dams

Although visiting dams, reservoirs and generating stations can be interesting and even fun, it’s important to remember these facilities are used to generate electricity. Hazards do exist and while some are more obvious than others, there are important steps you can take to stay safe:

 

  • keep a safe distance away from dams, powerhouses and electric equipment unless you’re being supervised by facility personnel
  • obey all safety signs
  • respect fenced, marked and gated areas and stay outside of safety booms, markers and buoys
  • keep children safe by supervising them at all times
  • be aware that water levels can change quickly and unexpectedly
  • remain alert for audible warnings like sirens
  • don’t stand or tie / anchor your boat below a dam since rapid and unexpected changes in water flows and levels can create significant hazards
  • keep a safe distance from waterways that could have unstable footing or slippery banks
  • remember that in winter, changing water levels and currents can cause gaps to form under ice, so activities like snowmobiling, skating, cross-country skiing and walking on reservoirs and rivers near dams and generating stations should always be avoided

Staying safe on reservoirs

Depending on the demand for electricity service, reservoir water levels can rise or fall on a daily basis, so fishing, swimming or boating above or below dams and generating stations can be dangerous.

Staying out of all restricted areas and obeying all warning signs is an essential first step to staying safe. You also need to be aware that floating debris and concealed hazards (especially in shallow shoreline areas) can accompany changes in water levels.

And remember, boaters are required to adhere to all regulations of the Canadian Coast Guard and always practice safe boating practices. 

Don't take a chance with your life

  • Before you start working near power lines or to report a safety hazard, contact your local utility.
  • To report an electric emergency, call 911 or your local electric utility.
  • To report a gas emergency, call 911 or the C 24-hour emergency line at 1-800-663-9911.

Safety Partners: City of Trail

The City of Trail is situated on the Columbia River in the West Kootenays. The City is responsible for directing a comprehensive capital and maintenance program for all city-owned roads, water and sewer utilities, water treatment operations, parks and cemetery operations. The City also owns and monitors the Cambridge Creek Dam.

The City of Trail joined the Safety Partners alliance because they recognized it was a cost-effective way for the partners to share consistent safety messaging. All of the Safety Partners’ messages, including natural gas safety, electrical hazards, call or click before you dig and dam safety, are important to Trail, says City of Trail public works manager Larry Abenante.

When it comes to dam safety, Trail is especially active. It’s taking extra measures to ensure the public’s safety around the earth-filled Cambridge Creek Dam because, Larry says, "although it’s a restricted area, we know people go up there."

The city is making improvements to the gate systems and signage in accordance with Dam Safety Regulations and installing a protective handrail on the walkway.

Larry says the biggest benefit to partnering with FortisBC and the other safety partners is the increased public awareness of safety-related issues. “This will definitely help reduce incidents and injuries to our employees and the general public.”

FortisBC works with all its safety partners to improve public awareness of electrical and natural gas safety. That’s energy at work.


Larry Abenante, City of Trail public works manager


 

 Call or click before you dig

 

It's free and easy

The call to BC One Call is free and so is the information about your natural gas line location. Call a minimum of two business days before you start your project. BC One Call will notify all member companies that have buried utilities in your dig area. FortisBC will provide you information to safely locate gas lines. If you need further clarification, call us and we can walk you through the details.


Three easy steps for safe digging

  1. Call or click: Call BC One Call at 1-800-474-6886 or click on bconecall.ca to make an e-ticket locate request.
  2. Review: Within two business days, you’ll receive your natural gas line location information. Review it before digging.
  3. Clarify: Need help understanding where it's safe to dig? Call FortisBC at 1-888-822-6555.
     

Safety Partners: BC One Call

Nobody should start digging without a quick call or click to BC One Call. A safety partner since our program began in 2005, this non-profit helps protect BC residents by letting them know about potential underground hazards.

Gary Metz, BC One Call executive director, says our shared commitment to safety makes for an ideal partnership: “Safety is a top priority for both BC One Call and FortisBC. We will continue to work closely together to ensure that both residential customers and industry professionals are aware of safe digging practices.”

BC One Call is more effective when more people know about it, which is why our partnership is a valuable safety tool. "Call Before You Dig is the first step in damage prevention," Gary says. Working so closely with FortisBC allows us to align our messages and work together to reach more residents in BC with safe digging information.”

FortisBC works with all its safety partners to improve public awareness of electrical and natural gas safety. That’s energy at work.

Don't take a chance with your life

  • Before you start working near power lines or to report a safety hazard, contact your local utility.
  • To report an electric emergency, call 911 or your local electric utility.
  • To report a gas emergency, call 911 or the FortisBC 24-hour emergency line at 1-800-663-9911.

 

 Smell gas?

 

Rotten eggs: a bad smell for a good reason?

Natural gas and piped propane smell like rotten eggs or sulphur. Natural gas is actually odourless, but we add trace amounts of a chemical called mercaptan, which has a distinctive rotten egg or sulphur-like odour. It smells bad for a good reason! In case of a leak, we want you to be able to detect and identify it.


Remember these simple steps

  1. Smell rotten eggs? Or if you hear the sound of escaping gas, it could be natural gas. Stop what you’re doing. Do not use your cellphone or landline, don’t smoke, light matches or operate electrical switches or create any other source of ignition.
  2. Go outside. As you exit, leave the door open behind you as well as any windows that may already be open.
  3. Call us. Once outside, use your cell or smartphone to call FortisBC’s 24-hour Emergency Line at 1-800-663-9911 or 911.

Don't take a chance with your life

  • Before you start working near power lines or to report a safety hazard, contact your local utility.
  • To report an electric emergency, call 911 or your local electric utility.
  • To report a gas emergency, call 911 or the FortisBC 24-hour emergency line at 1-800-663-9911.

Safety Partners: BC Safety Authority

BC Safety Authority (BCSA), is an independent, self-funded organization, and is your “go to” for comprehensive safety information on installing and operating technical systems or equipment in BC. In addition to issuing permits, licences and certificates, BCSA works with industry to reduce safety risks through assessment, education and outreach, enforcement and research.

“Safety is a shared responsibility,” says Quinn Newcomb, director of stakeholder engagement and communications at BCSA. Over the years, BCSA has collaborated with FortisBC on many safety initiatives. When the idea to create a more formal Safety Partnership alliance was announced, they were the first to join.

The safety partner concept is reflective of the safety system itself, Quinn says. “Everyone, including clients, stakeholders, industry, government and the public, all have a role to play in keeping the province safe.”

Quinn encourages consumers and business owners to do their part and work within the safety system: “Take out the required permits, hire licensed and qualified people, follow maintenance protocols, and use technical systems and equipment properly and safely.” Before beginning a project, visit safetyauthority.ca or call BCSA at 1-866-566-7233.

FortisBC works with all its safety partners to improve public awareness of electrical and natural gas safety. That’s energy at work.


 

 Safety on the farm

 

Safety on the farm

Whether you’re pruning trees, irrigating crops or moving equipment, don’t put your safety and your workers’ safety at risk. Be aware of potential hazards:

  • Before starting work, look up and be aware of where overhead power lines are located. Keep at least 10 metres (33 feet) away from overhead lines.
  • When you are digging fence poles or planting, find out where gas lines and buried utilities are before you dig. Call BC One Call at 1-800-474-6886 or click on bconecall.ca to get your free location information.
  • Be careful when pruning trees, as a wire could be hidden in the branches. If you see an electrical hazard, call your local utility first.
  • Don’t store or stack pipe, hay or farm equipment underneath power lines.
  • Keep water sources and irrigation pipes away from power lines. Water conducts electricity.
  • If you see a fallen wire, keep at least 10 metres or 33 feet away, even if it doesn’t appear to be live.
  • Smell gas? Leave the area and call FortisBC’s 24-hour emergency line at 1-800-663-9911 or 911.

Don't take a chance with your life

  • Before you start working near power lines or to report a safety hazard, contact your local utility.
  • To report an electric emergency, call 911 or your local electric utility.
  • To report a gas emergency, call 911 or the FortisBC 24-hour emergency line at 1-800-663-9911.

 

 Safety training is critical

 

As a supervisor or foreman, you hold your workers’ lives in your hands. Don't put them at risk. Ensure that they have the critical safety training they need to go home safely to their families.

Safety Partners: WorkSafeBC

WorkSafeBC’s vision is a province free from workplace injury or illness. They’ve joined our Safety Partners program to help us improve worker, employer, and public awareness of electrical and natural gas safety.

“Our mandate is occupational health and safety, but of course health and safety is not reserved only for the workplace,” says Shawn Mitton, WorkSafeBC prevention field services manager for the Okanagan and Kootenay region.

“It affects every part of our life…. If we can help someone to take a moment and think about their safety, make the right decision and prevent a disease or injury, that not only benefits the workplace, but the families and communities of the workers and employers we serve. Partnerships create shared values. A commitment to health and safety is a message we all need to promote.”

Shawn coordinates the education, consultation and enforcement activities of WorkSafeBC’s prevention officers, and assists employers and workers in meeting their responsibilities under the Workers Compensation Act.

“I do this work because I enjoy building partnerships and relationships that create a commitment to safety, develop shared values to risk management and injury prevention, and foster a culture and foundation of health and safety within the workplace. We all want the same thing: for each and every worker to go to work and come home to their loved ones safely.”

At FortisBC, we work with all of our safety partners to improve public awareness of electrical and natural gas safety. That’s energy at work.

 

 History of the program

 

At FortisBC, we care about your safety. That’s why more than 10 years ago we formed Safety Partners – a partnership with the province’s utilities, municipalities, and other organizations that share a commitment to the safety of British Columbians.

It's important everyone know how to stay safe around natural gas and electricity; these sources of energy are part of our day-to-day lives but can be hazardous if not treated with respect.

It doesn't matter if you're a home or business owner, a contractor or even a farmer – if you're digging in a garden, trimming trees or working on a roof near power lines, you need to know how to stay safe. Just like you need to know what natural gas smells like, and how to stay safe around dams and other energy facilities.

“By understanding the risks, everyone is able to take the appropriate safety precautions to ensure family, friends and colleagues stay safe around energy,” said FortisBC’s public safety manager, Michelle Petrusevich. “That’s why Safety Partners was created. We wanted to ensure the safety message is heard and safety is everyone’s priority – not just ours.”

Michelle is responsible for managing FortisBC’s public safety awareness portfolio, which includes the Safety Partners alliance. Together with her colleagues, they make sure British Columbians know about how to stay safe around energy.

Now that’s energy at work.

 

 Our partners