New Law Provides Additional Safety Measures for Utility Workers
California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed Senate Bill (SB) 297 into law, enacting the Wade Kilpatrick Gas Safety Adequacy Act of 2021. This legislation, authored by California State Senator Maria Elena Durazo, will provide additional measures to increase safety and reliability while preventing repeat offenders from hitting natural gas or hazardous liquid pipelines. It will also increase civil penalties for operators or excavators who violate regulations relating to excavations and subsurface installations and cause damage to underground utility infrastructure.
The Act is named after Wade Kilpatrick, a SoCal Gas employee who was killed in 2019 while repairing a damaged natural gas pipeline. Sherry Grant, a partner in the law firm of Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP (GEK), represented Kilpatrick's family in their Workers' Compensation claim. "Worker safety should always be a top priority," she says. "This new legislation is a positive step forward in terms of protecting the health and welfare of utility workers."
According to Eric Hoffman, President of Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) 132, "The Wade Kilpatrick Gas Safety Act will help battle irresponsible contractors that endanger lives, while simultaneously promoting good paying unions jobs and a safe environment. This legislation increases fines and penalties to 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.
"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, and, if need be, we fight for the public's safety in Sacramento."
GEK works closely with UWUA 132 members and many other workers throughout Southern California who get hurt at work. Our priority is to ensure that injured workers receive the full amount of Workers' Compensation benefits to which they are entitled. If you have any questions about a work-related injury, contact us at 213-739-7000.