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The excavation safety and related ground construction procedures are now an integral part of modern construction management. The safety rules and regulations get updated with time as new and critical construction issues are encountered. But the final intention of changing rules and standards is to get the work done quickly, efficiently, and safely.

The article enlists the important tips to conduct excavation safely at a construction site.

Tips for Safe Excavation at Construction Site

The essential tips to be followed while planning for excavation are:

1. Study the Soil Layers

Conduct a proper study to determine what lies beneath the soil where excavation is planned. For example, modern pavements have complex pipelines and cables beneath them. Properly planned excavation is essential in such areas. Studying the soil layers gives an idea about the magnitude of precautionary measures to be taken while excavating. In modern construction, the history of the soil along the depth is studied by a GPR.

Note: Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) is a modern technique used to determine the buried services that exist below the soil surface.

The study of soil type can help determine the critical depth of excavation, which gives an idea about the safe depth up to which excavation can be done without external support.

2. Effective Planning of Work

Excavation procedures can have more risk factors. Perform all the planning and work activities by undergoing proper risk assessment. Make a note of all the dangers associated with the existing underground services and events. The risk factors vary with the type of site and project.

3. Prepare the Workers

Damage to underground services unexpectedly during the excavation process results in many deaths and injuries. Proper direction and preparation of workers and staff can help to avoid this issue.

It is essential to brief the staff about the expected risk situation during excavation and prepare them to avoid danger to life.

4. Selection of Excavation Method

The method employed for excavation is not decided by chance. It is an adequately planned procedure taking into consideration objective, safety, economy, and time constraints. A small excavation can be conducted using a shovel or spade, while a complex digging requires special excavation techniques.

One such popular excavation method is by vacuum or suction method. It is a technique that reduces the contact between the site workers and underground services. With modern excavation techniques, the activity becomes quick, efficient, and minimizes the chances of costly service strikes.

5. Clean Excavated Surface

The excavated soil or debris must be properly moved from the area to a safe place. Modern methods of excavation like the vacuum method excavate around the buried surface fast and safely. Using high powered truck with excavation arms makes the process fast.

Irrespective of the method the project employs, it is necessary to make the workers aware of the potential risk associated with the improper placement of disposal. If time permits, manual digging is the safest excavation technique compared with the use of dangerous power tools.

6. Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

Personal protection equipment (PPE) is a must during the process of excavation. Generally, the personal protection equipment includes masks, protective gloves, protective clothing, goggles, respiratory protection, etc. Use additional PPE depending on the type of excavation hazards present underground.

Also Read: Excavation Hazards in Construction

7. Regularly Updating Plans

Doesn’t matter how well-planned the excavation process is, unexpected issues like unearthing or unexpected pipelines, etc., demand a change of plan. This might require more workers as the already set plan is not prepared to face the change. So, it is always recommended to schedule and plan each activity by expecting these unexpected changes.

Always brief the workers about encountering unexpected issues and underground risks. Systematic updating of daily excavation work can help the project in terms of health and safety. This can also help in minimizing the costly service strikes.

Frequently Asked Questions

?What is the need to study soil layers before excavation?

Studying the soil layers gives an idea about the magnitude of precautionary measures to be taken while excavating. Conduct a proper study to determine what lies beneath the soil where excavation is planned. For example, modern pavements have complex pipelines and cables beneath them. Properly planned excavation is essential in such areas. In modern construction, the history of the soil along the depth is studied by a GPR.

?How does planning help with safe excavation?

Excavation procedures can have more risk factors. Perform all the planning and work activities by undergoing proper risk assessment. Detail all dangers associated with the existing underground services and events. The risk factors vary with the type of site and project.
How well-planned the excavation process is, unexpected issues like unearthing or unexpected pipelines, etc., demand a change of plan. This might require more workers as the already set plan is not prepared to face the change. So, it is always recommended to schedule and plan each activity by expecting these unexpected changes.

?What is the importance of staff training before the excavation?

It is essential to brief the staff about the expected risk situation during excavation and prepare them to avoid danger to life. Damage to underground services unexpectedly during the excavation process results in many deaths and injuries. Proper direction and preparation of workers and staff can help to avoid this issue.
Always brief the workers about encountering unexpected issues and underground risks. Systematic updating of daily excavation work can help the project in terms of health and safety. It can also help in minimizing the costly service strikes.

Read More:

  1. Excavation Monitoring System – Types and Objectives
  2. Methods of Excavation Used for Deep Foundation in Construction

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Neenu Arjun

Neenu Arjun

EDITOR
Neenu is a Civil and Structural Engineer and has experience in Design of Concrete and Steel Structures. She is an Author, Editor and Partner at theconstructor.org.

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