“I said, ‘O my gosh Tom, you’ve just killed yourself,’ and I knew that I had made a grievous error and I was going to pay the consequences,” explains Tom Dickey, an experienced contractor from Auburn, IL, who suffered life-changing burns and injuries when he came into contact with underground power lines.
One day at the end of a horizontal directional drilling project in 2002, a small job was added to the day’s work—after Tom’s safety gear had already been sent back to the shop. He took a chance and made a decision in favor of time and efficiency instead of safety to go ahead and dig a 40-foot section for conduit.
This decision almost cost him his life. As an experienced professional he knew all of the correct procedures, but while making an adjustment to the conduit’s entry point in the ground by hand, he made a small slip and received a high-voltage shock. He survived, but he was badly burned. He spent months in the hospital, endured numerous surgeries, and still lives with pain every day.
Tom teamed up with the Energy Education Council’s Safe Electricity® program for the 2012 chapter of the “Teach Learn Care TLC” campaign to share the message, “Please, safety first,” to help keep others from having accidents with underground utilities. Tom’s story can be seen at SafeElectricity.org.
April is Safe Digging Month across the United States and an opportune time to increase awareness about the importance of contacting 8-1-1 before digging into any outdoor projects this spring. There are many types of underground services, including electrical, natural gas, water, septic or sewer, telephone, cable, not to mention large transmission pipelines for gas, oil, propane and more. The goal is to reduce the risk of striking underground utility lines and potentially causing environmental or property damage, costly delays, or personal injury. It is a free call and service.
“People have got to understand that when you deal with electricity and you do silly things, it changes your life,” cautions Tom. “It changes the people’s lives around you.”
“We commend Tom and his family for their willingness to help prevent other tragic accidents with underground utilities by sharing the lessons learned from their difficult experience,” says Molly Hall, executive director of the Safe Electricity program. “We encourage everyone to see the video of Tom’s story at SafeElectricity.org and to learn all of the vital information one must know at call811.com before putting even a shovel in the ground.”
At the end of a project at a construction site in 2002, it turned out to be "the day" for Tom Dickey. A small job had been added to the day’s directional boring work—after Tom’s safety gear had already been sent back to the shop. He made a decision in favor of time and efficiency instead of safety to go ahead and dig a 40-foot section of conduit. He suffered life-changing burns and injuries when he came into contact with underground power lines.
April Is National Safe Digging Month!