CONTRACTORS carrying out excavation work can ring a freephone number to check if sites are crossed by underground pipelines.
The scheme is being trialled in Cheshire for a year and will be developed nationally if successful.
Gareth Dykes, head of the HSE's Chemical Installations Hazardous Division, said: 'I welcome this initiative as a positive contribution to safe working and I urge all concerned to take full advantage of this free service.'
John Sumner, head of pipelines, said: 'By using the simple one-call system we hope that pipeline operators and all those involved in excavation work will be able to check exactly what is in the vicinity and how to avoid it.'
Figures from the HSE show that 515 pipelines have been hit during the past 25 years with 116 accidents resulting in fatalities.
Contractors in Cheshire can contact the information line on 0800 800333.