What does it take to completely turn a block of land into a safe and viable construction site? In this comprehensive article we’ll discuss the important construction site preparation activities to make the area viable and safe. We’ll also discuss some insights on how to maintain construction safety and possibly speed up the progress of the project. Let’s start.
1. Land clearing
This is usually the first step (considering the site’s surface was already evaluated) when preparing a site for construction. The obstructions and rubbish should first be cleared off before doing any meaningful work on the site. It’s similar to starting fresh and clearing out the old to give way for the new.
Starting from a clean slate, the engineers and crew can better perform succeeding tasks such as excavation (this will be discussed later). There will be no obstructions that will hinder or slow down their work. The site also becomes more accessible to the crew and heavy equipment. This results to faster work progress and increased probability of beating the deadline.
Although this is a necessary aspect of almost any construction project, there will always be consequences to anticipate. For example, many land clearing assignments require clearing off trees and vegetation. This often results to disturbance of the ecology in the area.
The whole food chain will be disrupted because food sources will be destroyed or eliminated. It’s an interdependent system which is why elimination of just one plant species can result to extinction or reduction of the numbers of many creatures on the upper levels of the food chain.
The way to minimise this is by viewing the big picture of how the site will interact with the surrounding ecosystems. In case of the need to clear trees and vegetation, this should be done in a responsible way by promoting waste reduction and recycling.
The emissions and noise from the machinery might also affect the ecosystems near the area. The clearing activities may take days and weeks. The construction team should consider the possible disruptions of those activities to nature.
It’s a different setting though in urban developments. For instance, there might be existing structures in the area which need to be demolished. As with land clearing in non-urban areas, clearing the area should also be done responsibly and carefully to avoid interruptions and inconveniences. This time residents and tourists will be affected because of the clearing procedures.
2. Underground utility mapping
Aside from removing old structures and other possible obstructions from the area, developers and crew also account for subsurface structures and utilities. This is also important for preventing community interruptions and maintaining safety in the job site.
In urban and people-dense areas, expect that beneath the ground there’s a complex network of pipes and cables that are essential for the functioning of the city. Accidentally hitting or damaging them could result to serious legal consequences.
More importantly, it’s about work safety. Failure to account for the location and identity of subsurface utilities could expose the crew to greater risks. If they accidentally hit a cable (which is likely covered in rubbish), electrocution and injuries might be the result. If a crew member busts a water pipe, the debris might get propelled (and hit a worker) and the leaking water might flood the area.
The markings that indicate utility locations might have already faded or become outdated. As a result, the team should have the most recent information about what lies beneath the ground. Whether it’s a power line, water pipe or a storm water drain, the team should possess complete knowledge about the locations and identities of utilities in the site. This is to eliminate the risks of blind digging. This also helps in speeding up the progress of the project because the engineers and crew can wisely plan for site excavation and further site preparation.
It also somehow applies to non-urban areas because some locations might have been used for an oil refinery or transport depot (or any other industrial purpose). There might still be inactive storage tanks under the ground which could contain diesel or petrol. A sudden and massive impact (especially by heavy equipment) to the storage tanks might start a fire or expose workers to chemical hazards.
The locations and identities of these storage tanks should be determined first before doing any kind of digging or bringing heavy equipment to the site. In addition, it’s very helpful to know the history of the site (e.g. was it used for minerals processing?) so the team will have an idea about the risks present in the area.
There are now advanced tools to locate storage tanks and other objects under the ground. Often it’s a combination of radar and electromagnetic technologies to acquire accurate results. Old records are also used for added information about the location.
Failure to map the subsurface utilities could be catastrophic. Aside from causing massive project delays, excavation by the crew could cause injuries and fatalities. This would also slow down the project overall because of slow and inefficient digging. But if the whole team has complete knowledge about the subsurface infrastructures, the operations could become faster, safer and more efficient especially during site excavation.
3. Site excavation & earthwork
Aside from land clearing and underground utility mapping, another important site preparation activity is excavation. Some of the soil and earth should be removed and transported so the crew can start working on the foundation. Moreover, sludge, storm water and slurry should also be safely and efficiently removed from the site.
This activity will be safer if the crew has accurate and updated utility maps. They can better plan their work and avoid particularly vulnerable areas. They could also take extra precautions if there are storage tanks or power cables under the ground. Even when using a heavy backhoe or excavator, the team could now work safely because of information they have in their hands.
In many non-urban areas (e.g. remote locations), site excavation might be straightforward because of low population and structure density. The site is easily accessible which means the crew and heavy equipment can easily get in and out of the area. The soil and waste can also be easily transported out of the location without causing an inconvenience to anyone.
On the other hand, excavation in urban and people-dense areas could be tricky and challenging. Access to the area could be much more difficult. Heavy equipment might not easily get into the area because of the traffic and presence of nearby buildings. Moreover, performing the excavation activities could be messy and cause inconvenience to the community.
That’s why many engineers now prefer a non-destructive and less intrusive way of digging. One such way is hydro vacuum excavation wherein high pressure water is used to loosen up the soil and a vacuum is created for suction and removal of waste. The waste directly goes to a tank for later disposal (less exposure of the workers to hazards).
Another good thing about hydro vacuum excavation is that it can also be used in tight and congested areas (less accessible locations). The truck can be placed a bit far away from the actual site and the excavation can still be done.
In other words, hydro vacuum excavation reduces risks and improves convenience. The crew can work in a much safer environment while also minimising inconvenience to the urban dwellers and businesses.
Construction site preparation activities
Land clearing, underground utility mapping and site excavation are just a few of the important construction site preparation activities. Engineers can perform more procedures and further analysis of the site to improve workplace safety and speed up project progress.
It’s especially in the case of locating underground utilities and performing safe excavations. These are crucial activities in promoting and maintaining safety in the job site. This also results to improved work efficiency because there will be fewer delays.
Whether it’s urban or non-urban development, our team here at One Search Locators can help improve site safety by taking care of the underground utility mapping and hydro vacuum excavation. Our certified Service Locators can arrive on your site within 24 hours upon your request.
Call us today at 1300 530 420 and we’ll give you a free quote. We are servicing Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, Melbourne and nearby locations.