Atmos Energy's Damage Prevention Ambassador Program | Atmos Energy
Week 1 NSM_HERO

Atmos Energy's Damage Prevention Ambassador Program

Safety
June 8, 2021
By: Greg Smith, Director of System Integrity and Compliance

Atmos Energy’s commitment to safety is a core value, reflected in our vision statement, and it permeates our culture.  It is evident in our people, processes, procedures, and practices.  We live this safety value; it is part of who we are. In celebration of National Safety Month, today is the first in a series of features about our initiatives to innovate and advance employee training, communicate safety messaging to our customers and communities, and invest in the modernization of our system. 

Because third-party damage represents one of the greatest threats to natural gas distribution systems, Atmos Energy administers a Damage Prevention Ambassador Program that empowers our employees to identify and prevent potential digging accidents in the field.  Service and construction technicians, engineers, and compliance, and measurement representatives proactively stop at excavation sites, confirm locate ticket requests, visually confirm that Atmos Energy facilities were located, and ensure crews are working safely. 

If an unsafe situation is found, Damage Prevention Ambassadors are empowered to stop work, distribute 811 literature, and take photos of the excavation site for documentation in a mobile app.  The mobile app logs the global positioning system (GPS) coordinates of the site and allows the user to record 811 ticket numbers, along with notes of the jobsite. If no active 811 ticket is found, excavators are supplied with Atmos Energy damage prevention brochures and Call 811 literature. These brochures explain in detail the importance of submitting a locate request ticket before digging begins.

In 2020, we are proud to report that 2,000 Damage Prevention Ambassadors:

  • Performed 34,059 safe digging audits, which helped prevent countless potentially dangerous and costly accidents.
  • Communicated with homeowners, contract excavators, public utility workers, city public works team members, and street construction workers to call 811 before any type of excavation begins.
  • Distributed Call 811 literature to nearly 10,000 people across Atmos Energy’s eight state footprint.
  • Contributed to a continued reduction in damages to our underground systems.  From 2019 to 2020, Atmos Energy reported an 8 percent reduction to our “damages per thousand” industry metric and a continued trend of reduction over the past five years.


Our efforts to prevent potential digging accidents extend beyond our Damage Prevention Ambassador program to include a variety of efforts year-round.  Most recently, our team members celebrated National Safe Digging Month in April by participating in contests to document and audit safe digging practices in their local communities. More than 1,000 Atmos Energy employees went above and beyond to complete more than 6,000 Damage Prevention Ambassador stops and submit more than 500 photos showing utility line locates and markings that keep our system, each other, and our communities safe. 

As Atmos Energy employees, we are all damage prevention ambassadors with a role to play in keeping our natural gas system, our employees, and our communities safe from damaged natural gas lines.  Anyone can help prevent damage by calling 811 a few business days before beginning to dig so that all utilities can locate and mark their underground facilities.  It is a free service to the public and excavators, helping to protect life and property and avoid costly repairs.

Greg Smith is director of system integrity & compliance for Atmos Energy.

Natural gas safety is a partnership, and we invite you to become a safety ambassador by signing the Atmos Energy Call 811 Pledge at https://www.atmosenergy.com/safety/sign-call-811-pledge.