"Only a fool learns from his mistakes. The wise man [or woman] learns from the mistakes of others." - Otto Von Bismarck
I have always loved that quote. It speaks volumes. For those of us in the damage prevention industry, whether utility owner, excavator, locator, or engineer, we can all learn from the mistakes of others. In fact, for us there is a yearly report on utility damages that helps us to do just that. It is published by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) and it is the aptly named DIRT (Damage Information Recording Tool) Report. The current report contains data from 2018 and the CGA has been publishing these reports over the last 15-years. The current report can be found at www.commongroundalliance.com/dirt.
So why should we sift through a rather dry, 64-page report? Because it represents thousands of mistakes, that when added together helps us to make informed decisions going forward. Many of the changes and recommendations that form the basis of the CGA's Best Practices come from this and similar reports. In addition to the best practices that can be gleaned from the DIRT Report, there is information concerning the days of the week and the times of the year when damages are most likely to occur, root cause indicators and trend lines - all of which gives us the insights we can use to better manage our staffs, educate our clients, speak to our industry counterparts, protect the nation's infrastructure and the public safety in general.
The times we are now have been hard on all of us, but will not last forever. When the work comes back it will be in fits, starts and in some cases an absolute deluge. Now is the time to look at your operations and your best practices. Refine and improve them, pass this onto your staff and field personnel, so that when we all come back we are better trained and prepared than before. Our clients and our infrastructure system will thank you. Tools such as the CGA's DIRT Report and Best Practices Guide are good resources in this process.