Excavation work with a risk of collapse

The stability of a slope is governed by, for example, the height, the gradient and the earth layer’s resistant qualities and weight, but the subsoil water level and other factors also have an effect. If the excavation is deep, or if the earth layer is loose, a geo-technician should assess the risk of collapse and give suggestions about measures that can prevent collapse.

Quick changes of weather with a lot of rain or rapid temperature fluctuations can change the condition of the ground, and can mean that one must carry out new assessments.

Shaking, vibrations and new loads on the ground can affect excavation work. These can come from nearby buildings, roads or railways, loads from material stock, excavation masses, or passing vehicles.

Supportive structures, for example tongues, should be used if there is a risk of collapse. Alternately, the excavation may be carried out with a slope gradient. It is important that the excavation mass is not placed to close to the edge, and that vehicular traffic does not drive too close.

When the groundwork entails tipping of material or passing vehicular traffic beside where the work is on going, it is important that there are barriers preventing vehicles from driving or falling down into the working area. A rule of thumb about appropriate height for a stop device during tipping is a height corresponding to half the wheel diameter of the vehicle.

Work must be conducted under the direction of a competent person

Excavation work must be started and carried on under the direction of a competent person if supportive structures need to be used or if the excavation is carried out with a slope gradient. The same applies if there are materialsor substances dangerous to health, or installations or cables, present in the ground.

Other work environment risks during excavation

Other work environment risks in connection with excavation can be quartz dust, hazardous substances in the soil, the digging up of installation cables for electricity, water and drainage or gas, musculoskeletal risks, heavy lifting of equipment, as well as vibrations for those who work in and with machinery.

Leased machines that carry out excavation and earth moving need to be equipped with an air conditioning system and cabin filter that are adapted for the risks with quartz, in order to provide a good driver environment.

In areas where one carries out excavation work, one can need to water or combat dust with other methods.

Do not forget that employees who work with water, drainage pipes and other contaminated earth can need vaccinations against certain communicable illnesses. 

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Last updated 2018-09-21