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Root Cause Analysis 2021 – Consistent Issues Underscored

Table 2—Damages by root cause for 2021 (color coded by root cause group)

Table 2 includes the “known” individual root causes for reported damages in 2021, sorted high-to-low and color-coded to match subsequent figures based on root cause groups.

Of the 25 root causes documented in DIRT, the 2021 dataset once again points to a tightening number of issues causing the majority of damages: As shown in Figure 7, in 2021, 76% of all damages were attributed to one of the top six individual root causes with each of the major[1] DIRT root cause groups represented.


[1] “Major” means No Locate Request, Excavation Practices and Locating Practices.

Figure 7

Digging without notification to the 811 center; excavators failing to pothole and failing to maintain sufficient clearance between digging equipment and buried facilities; and facilities not being marked or being marked inaccurately due to locator error and/or incorrect facility records/maps are the primary root causes of damages to buried infrastructure in the U.S., year over year. Tailoring damage prevention research, metrics, outreach and initiatives to addressing these consistent damage drivers is imperative to move the damage prevention industry forward.

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