DIRT Report

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Data Overview - Spotlight on 2021

  • Locate volume increased in 2021, with 811 centers (one call centers) reporting an increase in locate requests as well as outgoing transmissions.
  • Natural gas and telecommunications are the leading types of facilities damaged in the 2021 dataset.
  • Contractors and backhoes are the excavator type and equipment type involved in the greatest number of damages.
  • Types of work performed when a damage occurs is more varied, but water work leads, followed closely by sewer and telecommunications. This is true across a wide variety of states and provinces.
  • Of the 25 individual root causes documented in DIRT, six root causes account for 76% of damage events.[1] This is remarkably consistent with past analysis, despite some minor reshuffling of the high-to-low order. Thus, focusing damage prevention efforts on the leading root causes will provide the greatest results in reducing damages.
    • Failure to notify the 811 center remains the largest individual root cause.
    • Excavator failure to maintain clearance, combined with failure to pothole and other excavation practices make up the most consistent causes of damages due to excavator error in the field.
    • Facility not marked due to locator error and marked inaccurately due to locator error are the leading individual root causes in the locating group.
  • DIRT root cause groups of Excavation Practices and Locating Practices are roughly equal in terms of their contributions to the total number of damages, reinforcing that systemic improvements need to occur across each part of the damage prevention process. 
  • DIRT received over 230,000 reports on damages and near misses for 2021. The following analysis focuses on the 2021 dataset and specifically on the 203,618 unique damages reported into DIRT. In addition to providing a snapshot of damages in 2021, this section includes an overview of specific 811 center statistics for 2021.


    [1] As discussed in the 2020 DIRT Report, this again approximates the pattern of the Pareto Principle (aka the 80-20 rule).

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