DIRT 2018


In 2018, seven Canadian regions reported damages via DIRT (Damage Information Reporting Tool). On average, 47 damages occurred per workday (assuming 254 workdays per year), 2.6% more than in 2017.

Vast networks of conduits and cables lay underground, delivering products and services to today’s society: telecommunication and electrical cables, gas conduits, sewer and water lines, drainage systems, transmission pipelines, etc. Many of these underground networks are buried close to the surface, increasing the risk of damage during uncontrolled excavation or reclamation work. Despite all efforts to increase awareness on the presence of underground infrastructure and how to work safely near it during excavation work, damage continues to occur; impacting the environment, the integrity of services, and unnecessarily placing the safety of workers and citizens at risk.

According to voluntarily reported data in DIRT in 2018, the primary cause of damage was work on water and sewer systems (25%) by contractors (74% of total damages). The most common known root cause was excavation issues (38%). The second root cause was no notification made to One Call Centres (22%), of which 22% of damages were attributed to the absence of a locate request to a One Call Centre. 73% of damages occurred at an electric or natural gas facility posing a high risk to the public, workers and community safety.

Year-after-year, the societal costs related to damages are significant and estimated to be over $1 billion per year. Societal costs reflect both direct costs (e.g., cost to repair damaged underground infrastructure) and indirect costs (e.g., loss of productivity due to downtime resulting from damages, service disruption, deployment of emergency services, environmental mitigation, evacuation, disruption to 911 services, etc.).

The full report can be reviewed on the Canadian Common Ground Alliance (CCGA) website canadiancga.com. Regional profiles for each province are also documented.


Nathalie Moreau is executive director, prevention and public affairs for Info- Excavation. She is also chair of the Damage Reporting & Evaluating Committee and past chair for the Canadian Common Ground Alliance.

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