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Root Cause Overview – 2021

DIRT collects root cause information and has 25 individual “known” root causes to choose from as well as the option to choose “root cause not listed” or “unknown/other.” The Data Reporting & Evaluation Committee sorts related individual root causes into groups to provide a higher-level snapshot of what went wrong in the damage prevention process. No locate request stands alone as its own root cause group and has consistently been the single leading root cause each year. Without a request to 811, the rest of the damage prevention process cannot be engaged and effective. “Unknown/other” is intended to be used when none of the other choices apply. When the term “known data” is used in DIRT Report text, figure or exhibit, it means “unknown/other” responses have been filtered out.

Root Cause Groups

  • No Locate Request represents damages caused by the failure to provide notification to the 811 center (one call center) of the intent to dig.
  • Invalid Use of Request by Excavator[1] captures situations where the excavator invalidates the ticket by commencing work too early or digging beyond the expiration date or outside the work area described on the ticket. This group also covers scenarios where the excavator provided incorrect information to the 811 center in the initial notification. 
  • Excavation Issue captures damages where something went wrong in the physical digging process.
  • Locating Issue captures damages caused by inaccurate or missing marks.
  • Miscellaneous captures damage causes that do not fit into a notification, locating or excavating category. These consist of deteriorated facilities, previous damage and 811 center error. These typically account for around 1% of damages combined.
  • Unknown/Other captures damages where the root cause was not collected or none of the available choices adequately described the root cause. When this is selected, the DIRT system requires[2] the user to also provide a free-text comment. Ideally this would provide some indication of what caused the damage and why none of the available root cause choices fit.

[1] In DIRT Reports up to and including 2018, these were referred to as “Other Notification Practices.”

[2] Filling in this comment field is optional when any other root cause is selected.

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