2019 report on damage incidents to underground infrastructure across Canada.

Every year, through its Damage Information Report Tool (DIRT)*, the Canadian Common Ground Alliance collects information from utility owners across the country regarding damages to underground infrastructure and shares it with the excavating community.

Compared to 2018 data (you can read our summary on 2018’s DIRT Report here), there has been an improvement in the number of reported incidents across Canada, but we can still work together to reduce damages to underground infrastructure in our communities.

 

Main Cause of Damages in B.C.

Unfortunately, 55% of all reported damages in B.C. were the result of the failure to request a locate ticket with BC 1 Call, which is an 11% increase from 2018. This is a reminder of the importance of contacting BC 1 Call before you break ground, regardless of the size of your excavating site.

Of the damages that could have been avoided had BC 1 Call been contacted, 97% (up 2% from 2018) occurred at a natural gas facility, damage that poses a very high safety risk to those nearby. This only affirms that contacting BC 1 Call in advance of excavating is an easy, critical way to reduce injuries and damages.

 

B.C. Highlights

The construction sector saw a 136% increase in its involvement in instances of reported damages in 2019 compared to 2018. This significant increase makes the construction industry the sector most often involved in reported damage incidents in B.C.

The DIRT Report also looks at the reported damage incidents data and translates it into ratios to help enable year over year comparisons. Two ratios stand out this year:

Reported Damage Incidents/Work Day: according to the 2019 DIRT Report, BC registered 1,304 damage incidents to underground infrastructure, which is a 7% decrease from 2018 and a 10% decrease from 2017. This translated into one fewer damage incidents per workday compared to 2018. For reference, our best rate in the last 5 years was recorded in the 2015 DIRT Report: 1,131/4.5 per workday.

Reported Damage Incidents/Locate Request Processed: there were 6.45 damage incidents reported per 1,000 locate requests processed by BC 1 Call – down from 7 in 2018, but still the second-highest rate in Canada. The national average is 5.35.

 

Who Pays for Damages?

Although owners of underground infrastructure bear 20% of the direct costs associated with repairs of its facilities, 80% of the costs are paid collectively by the general population as a result of service disruption, evacuation, environmental impacts and legal support.

In total, societal costs related to damages remain significant – estimated to be over $1.2 billion per year.

You can access the full 2019 DIRT Report here.

 

How to Prevent Damage - Request a Locate from BC 1 Call

Help us spread our safety message to click or call before you dig with your loved ones and colleagues. If we work together, we can prevent injuries and damages to underground infrastructure.

Digging safely has never been easier: requesting a locate with BC 1 Call is 100% free of charge, and you can do it online or by phone. Our members require 3 business days to process your request and provide you with the maps and instructions to help you dig safely.

Request a locate online: 24/7 at bc1c.ca
Request a locate by phone: Monday to Friday, 7:00 am to 5:00 pm PST (excluding holidays) at 1-800-474-6886 (toll-free)


*
The DIRT report findings are based on voluntary submissions from infrastructure owners and, therefore, the report is an incomplete record of all damages and their root causes. Recognizing this shortcoming, the DIRT report is, nonetheless, the best available report of its kind in Canada, public or private.

If you own underground infrastructure in Canada, you can help make this report more complete by submitting information to the Damage Information Report Tool.