If you are currently in the process of carrying out building or demolition work on your property, it is likely you will have to excavate and move soil and other materials. Clearing plots of land, levelling the soil, digging drainage ditches and installing septic tanks will all require excavation work of one sort or another.
While hiring excavation equipment and carrying out the work yourself can be very satisfying and can also save you money, it isn't something you should enter into lightly. Excavation can be a hazardous job to undertake, so it is sometimes better to call in a professional contractor for advice and assistance. Below is a guide to 2 of the most common hazards that can occur during the excavation process.
Although the risk of a cave-in isn't very high with shallow excavations, once you dig down deeper than the height of a person, the risk of a cave-in becomes much higher. As the hole is made deeper and deeper, the sides of the excavated area can weaken. This increasing weakness can eventually lead to the sides of the excavation caving-in. This is highly dangerous for anyone working within the excavated area as they could be trapped underneath tonnes of soil. To avoid cave-ins, you should ensure that wooden or metal frames are installed around the sides of the excavated area to support and hold back the soil.
Damage to Underground Cables and Pipes
If you are excavating in a residential area, there is a good chance that there are a range of different underground cables and pipes which provide utilities and services to the local population. You should obtain maps which detail the location of these services and check the location of any utilities against the plans for your proposed excavation.
You may need to request permission to perform an excavation, depending on the type of service or utility that runs through your work site. If you are digging close to an underground service, you should commence the excavation manually using spades until you reach the site of the cable or pipe. This will help to prevent you from accidentally severing or damaging the underground service line with heavy excavation equipment.
If you do not feel confident in dealing with the hazards presented by cave-ins or underground cables and pipes, you should contact an excavation contractor. The contractor will be able to assess the planned excavation and help you to carry out the job in a safe and professional manner.