September 15, 2015
By Terry Murphy CLM

Terry MurphyOne of the key statistics that I look for is for the year-end DIRT Report, which shows the number of utility hits the green (landscape and fencing) industry has accumulated over the past year.

The key for me is to compare this new number to the previous year’s statistics to see if we have reduced the number of hits. Did we see any improvements? Congratulations, green industry, you continue to improve. In landscaping, we have reduced our utility hits per 1,000 locates by 53 per cent over the last four years. The fencing industry went down by 36 per cent. What a fantastic job.

This article is a detailed follow-up to last month’s report which included only actual hits. This report includes the effect of locate requests which is an extremely important statistical performance measurement.

The comparison of hits for the green industry appears at right (Table 1). When you look at these data, one would conclude that in landscaping, we decreased our one year landscape sector absolute hits by 22 per cent, while the green industry total hits went down by 26 per cent. The data really becomes relevant when you look at utility hits per 1,000 locate requests, which is the true measurement of improvement.

The green industry has decreased the overall annual utility hits from 746 to 550 (-30 per cent) and also the one year locate request efficiency has increased from 148,020  to 155,550 (+5.1 per cent), based on the total locate requests.

The following data are about locate requests for the last several years, and the relation to the actual number of utility hits (Table 2).

The landscape sector reduced the utility hits (326 to 254) by 22 per cent last year. Since the total locate requests also increased, the actual efficiency and productivity has greatly increased. Fencing has also shown a solid reduction from 419 to 256, or 39 per cent.

The 2014 ORCGA DIRT Report has further broken down the root cause data for utility hits and has categorized the locate request information into the various green industry activities. It also looks at the root cause for the industry for all utility hits. The main causes continue to be not obtaining locates and poor excavation techniques.

The four- and five-year results show that in general, excavating contractors are calling Ontario One Call more for locates and are being more careful while doing excavations.

Please note that each spring the Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance conducts its annual spring Dig Safe Promotions. This year, key kick-off meetings were held in 11 municipalities where board members and volunteers distributed promotional literature to the public. ORCGA’s main message is for everyone, both contractors and the public, to Call Ontario One Call and get locates and dig safe.

You may wish to consult the ORCGA website to see when and where a Dig Safe promotion will be next year, so you can plan to attend. These promotions give more information to the public and excavators. This contributes to the reduction in utility hits, which are a major cost to all society. Please support these activities and help out if you can.

I know the above data are boring to those who do not appreciate statistics, but for numbers- and results-oriented people, these stats tell the whole story. Green industry excavating contractors should be very proud of their efforts of the last ten years. They have certainly made great steps in improving our safety and damage prevention performance.

Landscape Ontario and The Ontario Fencing Association will continue efforts on damage prevention performance. Last year alone, contractors saved over $600,000 by reducing utility hits by almost 200. We can probably double this saving, considering the time saved in meetings with TSSA and other job site meetings. This shows us that good safety management can produce savings to the bottom line in profits.

ORCGA’s next major effort will be at the 2016 Landscape Ontario Congress and Fencecraft Show at the Toronto Congress Centre and our ORCGA contractor exhibit at next year’s Canada Blooms and National Home Show in March, 2016.

Please remember to always Dig Safe and always call Ontario One Call for locates. Thank you for your efforts to reduce utility hits.

Table 1 Comparison of hits for the green industry

2010 716 -22% -34%
2011 685 -5% Nill
2012 758 10% 1%
2013 746 -1.6% -10.4%
2014 550 -26.3% -22.1%

Table 2 Landscape industry hits compared to locate requests

2006 331 53.34 6.2 10.2
2007 390 57.1 6.85 10
2008 396 64.4 6.15 28.5
2009 549 60.4 7.91 -37.6%
2010 360 73.61 4.93 -10.3%
2011 360 82.55 4.42 -11.8%
2012 366 94.52 3.9 -19.2%
2013 326 103.47 3.15 -26.7%
2014 254 109.8 2.31 -45%

Terry Murphy can be reached at