Damage Prevention Download

A Weekly Feature on Industry Topics & Tools

Data-informed strategies for targeting top damage root causes

  • 27 October 2022
  • Author: Sarah Daley
  • Number of views: 3731

In this week’s Damage Prevention Download, we’re taking a closer look at one of the 2021 DIRT Report’s recommendations: “Tailor damage prevention efforts and investments to address the leading individual root causes.”

According to 2021 DIRT data, more than 76% of damages are caused by just six root causes. Finding ways to tailor education and outreach to address these recurrent root causes is the industry’s most efficient path toward making progress in reducing our persistent rate of annual damages.

he issues that consistently rise to the top each year are: (1) digging without notification to the 811 center; (2) a combination of failure to pothole and failure to maintain clearance between digging equipment and buried facilities; and (3) locating issues, with more accurate mapping consistently identified as an area with most potential to bring down damages.

Consider these practical strategies to implement the 2021 DIRT Report’s recommendation to tailor your efforts and investments toward reducing the most persistent and pervasive damage root causes:

  • Ensure your 811 messaging addresses common reasons that excavators fail to notify. CGA’s Excavator White Paper details jobsite scenarios that frequently result in a failure to notify, and highlights the factors most likely to motivate behavior change in excavators, which include physical harm and financial consequences. Taking these findings into account, your 811 outreach can acknowledge that locates are not always completed on time and provide specific reasons why excavators should not take a chance on digging without those locates completed.
  • Create multimedia educational materials about how to properly maintain clearance and pothole. Clearance and potholing frequently appear at the top of the DIRT Report root cause lists, indicating that specific, visual education around these particular practices could help better train excavators on safe digging practices.
  • Examine your contracts with locators and excavators to ensure you build in adequate time and incentives for third parties to adhere to safe digging requirements. Do your third-party installers have enough time and compensation built into their contracts to actually complete potholing for every dig? Do your locate contracts account for periods of high volume? CGA’s Next Practices Initiative has documented Southwest Gas’ implementation of best value contracts, which resulted in a 20% reduction in damages in just over two years. Next Practices has also created an “Elements of Effective Locating Contracts” document to provide guidance on structuring third-party locating contracts.
  • Update facility maps frequently and invest in GIS mapping expansion. According to CGA’s Locator White Paper, there is near-unanimous agreement among locators that improved mapping would help streamline the locating process and reduce errors. This directive is echoed in CGA’s 2022 Technology Report and 2021 DIRT Report, and is a key focus area of CGA’s Next Practices Initiative.

Click here to read the full 2021 DIRT Report and recommendations. If your organization has already implemented programs that effectively target top damage root causes, please share your strategies and successes with fellow CGA members on Engage.

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