Preserving Ontario’s Infrastructure is the mission of the Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance.
Vast networks of conduits and cables lie underground, delivering products and services to Ontario communities: telecommunication and electrical cables, gas conduits, sewers, water lines, drainage systems, oil pipelines, etc. Many of these underground infrastructures are buried not far from the ground’s surface, which increases the risk of damages during excavation or rehabilitation work.
Despite all efforts made to increase awareness on the importance of exercising vigilance during excavation work, damages occur too often. This has an impact on the environment and on the integrity of services, but more importantly, it puts the safety of workers and citizens at risk.
Preservation of this infrastructure is paramount and the mission of the Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance (ORCGA).
Representing over 500 members of Ontario’s damage prevention industry, including municipalities, utility companies, construction companies and safety organizations, the ORCGA was created as the voice of utility infrastructure damage prevention and is committed to maintaining the highest standards of safety for the public, construction workers and public infrastructure.
The primary objective of the ORCGA is to raise utility damage prevention awareness and produce practical damage prevention tools and services for use in the field. Most notably, tools such as the CCGA Underground Infrastructure Damage Prevention Best Practices 3.0, training such as the Damage Prevention Technician courses that are designed to train students on achieving competence in locating buried utilities, and the annual Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT Report).
The Reporting and Evaluation Committee, via the DIRT Report database, gathers meaningful data regarding the occurrence of facility events and performs analysis of the root causes of damage to underground infrastructure.
This analysis forms the content of the DIRT Report which identifies the root causes of events, the type of equipment used, when they occurred, and the type of work performed.
The DIRT Report also details an economic assessment of disruptions, in both Direct Costs (cost of repairs) and Indirect Costs (societal costs). The consequences of severing a natural gas line, an underground power line, a fiber optic cable, or damaging a vital water main can be costly. Utility damage prevention has high economic importance when direct costs such as repair labor and materials are considered, but especially when societal costs are factored in, such as worker injuries, emergency services interventions, work and traffic delays and legal costs.
Indeed, in 2019, the socioeconomic costs for the province of Ontario totaled more than $670M, and the average cost per incident totaled $136K. However, that reflects only the “reported” damages. The committee estimates that unreported damages in Ontario total over $330M, bringing the cost of damages to a staggering $1B per year.
The Reporting and Evaluation Committee also recommends what actions industry and stakeholders can take to help reduce future incidents, such as outreach and educational information to reduce Excavation Practices Not Sufficient (lack of careful excavation practices) and No Notification to One Call Centre, both significant causes of damages in Ontario.
The analysis included in the DIRT Report, in conjunction with the use of CCGA Underground Infrastructure Damage Prevention Best Practices 3.0, provides stakeholders with the tools needed to educate stakeholders, prepare targeted damage prevention programs and to develop effective communication campaigns. Because of this, the ORCGA and its members know that their efforts have made, and will continue to make, communities and infrastructure assets across Ontario safer.
For additional information on the ORCGA and the 2019 DIRT Report, visit orcga.com/publications/dirt-report/