For contractors who regularly take on jobs where they'll be breaking new ground for a variety of reasons, avoiding digging issues is an important consideration. From soil concerns to groundwater and other possible problems, there are a few major areas to keep an eye on if you're regularly performing digging of any kind on your job sites.
At Contractors School, we're here to provide numerous resources to contractors and soon-to-be contractors, from contractor license classes and other forms of education to several tools for existing contractors and their businesses. We regularly offer recommendations on basic themes like avoiding digging concerns while on a job site, plus many related ones. What are some important considerations for any contractor in such a setting?
One of the single most important factors to consider when taking part in any project that involves digging is soil quality. The soil composition can be a major determinant in terms of whether or not it will present any problems when you're out on your job site. For instance, highly organic soils, which are often found near bodies of water like rivers and streams, might make it difficult to excavate because they tend to keep their moisture content for much longer periods than other types of soils. Likewise, organic soils are very rich in nutrients and can be highly combustible if they're not handled properly.
There are a few specific components you'll want to consider when it comes to soil quality, including:
All these factors must be evaluated thoroughly when considering whether soil can support the weight of the machinery you'll be using to dig, as well as any potential buildings or structures that might need to be erected on-site.
In many cases, it will be necessary to hire a professional to test the soils. Many times, a geotechnical engineer is the right person for the job. The testing process will involve performing a variety of tests on samples taken from different parts of your land.
Another important factor to evaluate regarding the soil in any digging area is any possible contamination. You'll want to be aware of whether or not the soil has previously been used for storing hazardous materials, garbage, sewage, or other substances that could pose a threat if not cleaned thoroughly before you start digging.
This factor will often require some type of soil testing in order for you to make an informed decision about whether or not to dig safely. You'll want to take into account whether or not the contaminated soil is likely to transfer contaminants into any groundwater that might be on-site. If you've encountered this type of soil on a regular basis, you're better off hiring a professional who knows how best to clean and remove the contaminant from your land.
When digging into any property area, you also have to be aware of any buried utility lines. These could be gas, electric, sewage, water, and a variety of other resources you don't want to disturb in any way as you go about performing your work.
In most cases, the landowner will have information about whether or not any utilities are on-site and where they're located. In some cases, the utility company in charge of that line will have records which you can use to pinpoint their location. However, if this information isn't available, it's important to contact your local utility office or call 811 before digging begins on any property. This helps ensure you'll avoid accidentally severing any lines and putting yourself at risk for injury or worse.
In rare cases, you may discover during a digging project that you have uncovered a historical site. This is a more unusual occurrence, but it can happen. In order to make sure you don't cause any unnecessary damage during the course of your work, be sure to contact the appropriate authorities if you encounter anything that seems culturally significant as you're digging on-site.
Finally, a few words on some other hazards to keep an eye out for during any digging project:
For more on areas to check before or during any digging project for your contracting business, or to learn about any of our contractor resources in Utah, speak to the staff at Contractors School today.