A look into
the 2018 DIRT Report
Common Ground Alliance (CGA)
is an organization dedicated to protecting underground utility lines, people
who dig near them, and their communities. The
program collects critical information and analyzes all 2018 data submitted
anonymously and voluntarily by facility operators, utility locating companies,
one-call centers, contractors, regulators and others.
According to the CGA, the objective of the DIRT report is
to provide a resource to capture damage event information and to identify the
root causes of events, with the goal of reducing the number of events through
public education, focused damage prevention programs, and improved industry
in its twelfth year, there has been a drastic increase in the number of records
submitted. This helps the industry better understand the issues faced in
the safe digging process and how it can be resolved, thus, making its conclusions
and recommendations more precise.
In September 2019 the CGA announced
its findings and analysis of utility damage and near-miss events in the 2018
Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) Report. An event is defined in
the CGA DIRT User’s Guide as “the occurrence of facility damage, near miss, or
downtime.” According to the CGA,” the DIRT allows industry stakeholders in the
U.S. and Canada to submit data to a comprehensive database. The database is
used to identify the characteristics, themes, and contributing factors leading
to damages, downtime, and near misses”.
In the DIRT report,
published in September of this year, 440,749 damages and near miss events have
been reported in 2018 for the U.S. and Canada.
Reported events, near misses, and damages in Canada and the U.S., over time
Total Events Entered in DIRT
Near Misses (unique events)
Damages (unique events)
Highlights from the 2018 DIRT
from the substantial reporting states is used to estimate the total number of
damages for the U.S. The
estimate of total damages in the U.S. increased from 439,000 in 2017 to 509,000
in 2018, representing a 16% increase.
- Damages per 1,000 one call center transmissions increased slightly
from 2017 to 2018, along with a similarly small increase in damages per million
dollars of construction spending.
- Despite these increases, the past 15 years have featured mostly
year-over-year decreases in estimated damages since the first DIRT Report in
- The top reported root cause category was “excavation issue” (52.2 percent), continuing a trend from recent years where this was the top identified root cause in the DIRT Report. Other identified root causes were as follows:
- Notification not made – 23.5 percent
- Locating practices not sufficient – 16.8 percent
- Miscellaneous – 6.5 percent
The full report can be
accessed by clicking on the links below.
DIRT REPORT 2018
The data from the DIRT report informs nearly
every aspect of CGA’s operations and industry recommendations. The CGA, for instance, relies
heavily on this data for the
publication of its Best Practices manual. These Best Practices have been
regarded and used as the trusted resource for the underground damage
prevention. The CGA Best Practices are designed to improve worker safety, protect
vital underground infrastructure and ensure public safety during excavation
activities conducted near the existing underground facilities.
To access the most recent edition of CGA Best Practices, please click here.