Statement from Eric Hofmann, President of Utility Workers Union of America, Local 132 AFL-CIO:
Our brothers and sisters of UWUA Local 132 make safety our number one priority. We work tirelessly to keep natural gas safe, affordable, and reliable for small businesses and families across Southern California.
The Wade Kilpatrick Gas Safety Act will help battle irresponsible contractors that endanger lives, while simultaneously promoting good-paying union jobs and a safe environment. This legislation increases fines and penalties on reckless contractors who repeatedly damage gas infrastructure and fail to follow the proper safety protocols. We want to thank Governor Newsom, Senator Durazo, and the Legislature for passing this common-sense safety reform.
This is for our brother, Wade, his family, and all his Union brothers and sisters who work every day to keep us all safe.
In July 2019, we lost our brother, Wade Kilpatrick, in the line of duty because a contractor who knew better, failed to call 811 Dig Alert. SB 297 will put in additional safety measures to ensure that something like this never happens again. This legislation will improve worker safety, protect the public, and the environment.
California Government Code 4216 requires homeowners and professional excavators to call 811 before any excavation with power tools or when a permit is required. But of the 9,600 incidents in 2019 where facilities were damaged during excavations, 46% of the excavators did not notify 811 before digging.
More than 1,800 of the incidents occurred in Los Angeles County, which is twice more than any other California county.
The law will create civil penalties of up to $200,000 and possible suspension or revocation of a contractor’s license if the state’s requirements are not met before excavation.