Addressing Damage Prevention’s Systemic Challenges Through Shared Accountability
The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) founded its newest initiative, the Damage Prevention Institute (DPI), in 2022 to foster shared accountability among damage prevention stakeholders.
The CGA was founded on the principle that reducing damages to underground utilities is a shared responsibility among all damage prevention stakeholders. For more than 20 years, CGA has been dedicated to reducing utility damages through a variety of initiatives that raise awareness of the 811 system, collect and analyze damage data, catalog industry best practices, evaluate emerging technologies and more.
With experience spearheading countless efforts to drive down damages, CGA has found that the truly impactful solutions to damage prevention’s greatest challenges only happen when all stakeholders are involved and accountable to each other.
Reducing Damages Through Metrics and Accreditation
Damages to buried infrastructure can result from errors made by any stakeholder, so accountability must be shared among all of those involved, and must be measured by balanced, unbiased metrics against an established benchmark of quality and efficiency. By measuring the success of organizations involved in damage prevention and accrediting those committed to safety, we can address the systemic inefficiencies impacting the industry to improve the reliability of the damage prevention system for all of those involved.
The DPI will act as CGA’s accreditation and metrics arm, using a stakeholder-driven approach to develop performance benchmarks that reflect commitment to CGA Best Practices and dedication to proven safety measures that reduce damages.
The DPI was launched in conjunction with CGA’s announced acquisition of the Gold Shovel Association (GSA) and builds upon insights from CGA’s Next Practices Initiative to generate a model of shared accountability among all stakeholders. The DPI functions on the premise that what gets measured effectively gets managed effectively. Through comprehensive, impartial appraisal of all participating stakeholders, we can better understand and address inefficiencies within the system.
In the spirit of collaboration that is central to the DPI, becoming an accredited participant is open to CGA members in the locator, excavator and owner/operator stakeholder groups. Other organizations may participate; however, the DPI is currently only accrediting locators, excavators, and facility owner/operators at this time. The actions of facility owner/operators, locators and excavators all affect damage outcomes, and must be measured and evaluated without bias to significantly reduce damages to buried infrastructure.
The DPI Accreditation Process
To become DPI accredited, participants must be committed to advancing safety and demonstrate this commitment through the application of CGA’s Best Practices and Next Practices within their organization. Accreditation requirements build on GSA’s criteria, and include a leadership commitment to the DPI, whistleblower and stop-work authority for employees, investigation and corrective action policies and procedures, and damage prevention training for employees, among others. Organizations must also submit data to a specialized, DPI-focused version of CGA’s Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) so that performance and progress may be measured.
Initially, DPI’s metrics are based upon the work of the GSA metrics committees. The metrics are intended to be tailored toward each stakeholder group and provide balanced, unbiased measurement of stakeholder performance:
- Excavators: Work hours damage rate and damages per 1,000 transmissions
- Facility Owner/Operators: Mapping quality and timeliness of map updates
- Locators: On-time performance and damages per 1,000 locates
As the DPI matures, the newly established DPI Metrics Committee will work to identify new and revised metrics that rely upon verifiable data. By establishing consensus-based metrics for all stakeholder groups – not just excavators – DPI will create an efficient and transparent means of measuring damage prevention stakeholder performance.
This transparency will also extend into the DPI’s peer review process, which is currently in preliminary stages of development. This process will allow committed damage prevention participants to share key successes and challenges in reducing damages to buried infrastructure with organizations that have similar profiles, and to collaborate on industry efforts to decrease damage rates. CGA is working with other industry organizations to understand their peer review practices, with the goal of launching a pilot of the DPI peer review process this year.
The collaboration and accountability that the DPI demands will help prevent silos within industry groups and individual organizations that have slowed progress in reducing damages. It should also increase stakeholders’ adoption of strategies that are proven to drive damages down. By maintaining the vision of shared responsibility that CGA is built on, and utilizing comprehensive metrics and benchmarks to evaluate progress, we believe that the DPI is what the industry needs to bring damage prevention into a future of shared accountability.
The DPI is still in a phase of development and growth, and we look forward to sharing progress with our stakeholders and learning from everyone involved in damage prevention as we advance. If your organization is interested in participating in the DPI, visit dpi.commongroundalliance.com to learn more and begin the enrollment process.
Common Ground Alliance
CGA is a member-driven association of more than 2,700 organizations representing every facet of the underground utility industry. Established in 2000, CGA is committed to saving lives and preventing damage to North American underground infrastructure by promoting effective damage prevention practices.
CGA’s Damage Prevention Institute (DPI) is focused on providing the industry with powerful insights and opportunities to reduce damages through a metrics-focused, peer-reviewed model. CGA has established itself as the preeminent source of damage prevention data and information in an effort to reduce damages to underground facilities in North America through shared responsibility among all stakeholders. For more information, visit CGA on the web at commongroundalliance.com.