The 2019 Common Ground Alliance DIRT (Damage Information Reporting Tool) was released October 2020.
Damages in 2019
- Damages are on the rise. The number of damage reports entered in DIRT, both before and after applying the method to match and weight multiple reports of the same event, reached an all-time high at 534,151 and 453,766 respectively.
- The estimate of total damages in the U.S. increased 4.5% year-over-year to 532,000, mirroring a 4.5% increase in damages per million dollars of construction spending. Interestingly, the number of transmissions per every construction dollar spent rose in 2019 – a potential indicator of stress on the damage prevention system.
- Enhancements in the quality of DIRT submissions could substantially increase the strength of the DIRT Report and the resulting recommendations.
Enormous Societal Costs of Damages
- For 2019 alone, the societal costs of damages to buried utilities in the U.S. is estimated at $30 billion. This estimate accounts for direct costs (facility repair) and indirect costs (property damage, medical bills, businesses unable to operate, etc.). All stakeholders have a clear interest in reducing damages to buried utilities as a means of reducing these enormous societal costs.
Root Cause Analysis
- Failure to notify the one call center/811 (No Locate Request) remains the largest individual damage root cause, but the root cause groupings of Excavation Issues, Locating Issues, and Invalid Use of Locate Request all appear roughly equal, suggesting that improvements are needed in every step of the safe excavation process in order to reverse the damage trend.
- Distinguishing between damage liability and true damage root cause when submitting to DIRT would better illustrate where behavior changes could result in improved safety outcomes.
Reexamining Best Practices
- The biggest categories of damage root causes correspond to Best Practices that lack specificity, likely reflecting the difficulty of achieving consensus among all 16 CGA stakeholder groups, which is required by the Best Practices process.
- With low-hanging fruit harvested, the remaining issues facing the industry are more challenging ones. Still, the 2019 DIRT Report includes recommendations for reexamining key Best Practices to combat the largest drivers of damages to buried utilities.
- Explore the 2019 (and 2018) DIRT data using the Interactive Dashboard, which allows users to apply a range of filters to create custom data views.