Damage Information Reporting Tool
The Common Ground Alliance’s (CGA) annual Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) program collects critical damage and event information, analyzing the numbers and producing targeted recommendations to damage prevention stakeholders about how to best protect buried facilities. Launched in late 2003, the CGA DIRT Report has gained stakeholders in order to submit underground damage and near miss reports through a completely secure, private web application. This DIRT toolkit is designed to assist members with using and promoting DIRT, including the DIRT Annual Reports. These reports encompass key details and findings involving subsurface investigations, specifically focusing on near miss and damage events on construction project sites.
A near miss can be described as an event where damage did not occur, but a clear potential for damage was identified. Examples include:
- An excavator discovers a buried facility that was not marked or marked accurately
- An excavator is found digging without having notified the one-call center (811).
- An operator fails to respond to a locate request.
- A one-call center incorrectly entered data regarding the work site.
DIRT Report labels damage events as “any impact or exposure that results in the need to repair an underground facility due to a weakening or the partial or complete destruction of the facility, including, but not limited to, the protective coating, lateral support, cathodic protection, or the housing of the line, device, or facility.” In recent years, DIRT Reports and online dashboards have solely focused on the “damage” events and reports. Examples of statistics emphasizing damage events include line strike damages, injuries, and death, in relation to faulty or unprepared excavation projects.
The DIRT Report, in relation to construction and subsurface companies, tells us a lot about what we need to know about the industry. For example, the 2019 DIRT Report shows that the number of damage events have not only increased but reached an all-time high, notifying a potential indicator of stress on the damage prevention system. Furthermore, the DIRT Report signals the root cause for these damage events. The root cause analysis shows that failure to notify the one-call center (811) or hire a private utility locator remains the largest individual damage root cause; while the root cause groupings of Excavation Issues, Locating Issues, and Invalid Use of a Locate Request all appear roughly equal, suggesting that improvements are needed in every step of the safe excavation process in order to reduce the damage trend.
Additionally, apart from the DIRT Report, CGA sponsors a DIRT Dashboard for additional damage prevention support. CGA states, “The interactive dashboard allows users to analyze the complete DIRT dataset, run queries, filter, sort, and extract trends of interest. Key features of the interactive DIRT analysis tool include the following: state summaries and interactive visualizations; easy comparisons between states; temporal damage trends over the year; interactive maps; and root causes and associated excavation information (type of excavator, work, and equipment).”