CGA’s 2012 DIRT Report Confirms Importance Of Calling 811

October 2013, Vol. 68 No. 10

Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the stakeholder-run organization dedicated to protecting underground utility lines and the people who dig near them, has announced findings from its comprehensive 2012 Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) Report.

The report, which is the sum of all 2012 data submitted anonymously and voluntarily by facility operators, utility locate companies, contractors and regulators, confirmed for the third consecutive year the importance of making a free call to 811 to reach a local one call center as the simplest and easiest way to reduce excavation-related damage to underground facilities.

When an excavator notifies a one call center before digging, damage occurs less than one percent of the time, according to the report. The report also estimates the total number of damages could be reduced by as much as 25 percent if all digging was preceded by a locate request.

As it did in the 2011 report, CGA employed a linear regression model for the 11 states legislatively required to report damages to estimate the total underground facility damage events for 2012, and found that they continue to be a major problem, with 350,000 events estimated last year. Although this number estimates approximately 20,000 more events than in 2011, the increase is believed to be largely a result of increased construction activity in 2012. Excavation activity was up seven percent between 2011 and 2012 in the states that reported one call center locate request volume for both years.

Slightly more than 75 percent of all events submitted for 2012 included root cause data, and the top causes were identified as follows:
• Excavation practices not sufficient 45 percent
• Notification not made 25 percent
• Locating practices not sufficient 17 percent

The percentage of known incidents listing “Notification not made” as a root cause is lower than any other point in the last six years, demonstrating the effectiveness of the 811 campaign.

Increased awareness
National awareness of 811 doubled over the past four years, as measured by CGA research. This increase in public awareness of the 811 phone number has coincided with the steady decrease in the percentage of total reported damages attributed to not notifying a one call center prior to digging.