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Wollam Construction EarthworksMistakes in excavation and embankment during construction can lead to costly and hazardous conditions, including broken pipe and utility lines, sinkholes, cracked foundations, improperly set footings, and more. This step of construction is so critical to the entire operation’s success that it takes an entire dedicated, experienced team to execute properly.


Whether the contract involves moving thousands of cubic yards of material, or just a few smaller excavations, the excavation company you select should have specialists who analyze the site for soil composition, field measurements, and local environmental concerns.


Here are just a few ways that Wollam Construction identifies and guards against potential mistakes in earthwork and excavation construction.


Protect Pipe and Utility Lines


Buried pipes, sewer laterals, and utility lines can represent a grave hazard to both the environment and workers if broken. Underground lines are broken every six minutes in the United States due to improper planning before digging with nearly 450,000 incidents recorded in 2019 alone.


When a line is broken, construction must stop, authorities must be notified, and usually, an investigation occurs. These can lead to costly and expensive delays. And in worst-case scenarios, these accidents can lead to injuries and deaths.


Professional excavation construction companies know that they must arrange for a proper survey of all public utilities. Gas lines, water lines, oil lines, sewer pipes, and electrical lines should be mapped, marked with a color code, and properly protected during any excavation project. 


However, these are not the only subterranean hazards that can cause problems during excavation. A complete analysis of the site can identify any potential problems and proper planning can go a long way in preventing any accidents. 


Some common mistakes when excavating near pipe and utility lines include:


  • Not conducting a full survey
  • Failing to account for other subterranean conditions and hazards including buried rocks, water tables, or other issues.
  • Driving heavy machinery over the top of lines
  • Improper soil compaction
  • Not being OSHA trained or compliant


Our team ensures proper excavation by surveying the site, conducting soil analysis, working closely with local utilities and municipalities to comply with local regulations, and by assigning a project coordinator that inspects the site daily.


Site Preparation


Before construction begins, the site must be physically walked in addition to doing surveys and terrain maps. This will give the excavation company an idea of the type of vegetation they will encounter, existing structures that need to be removed, any environmental hazards that might be present, and other issues that need to be resolved before the project begins.


Next, a complete survey of the land must be done. 


These geophysical surveys will give the excavation construction team the plan for where the building or road will be placed and how the land must be graded to accommodate the structure.


For some buildings or roads, cuts and embankments must be formed and the area leveled. During this part of the construction process, surveyors will mark the area and provide a guided plan to the project engineer. 


Improper planning or mistakes at this phase could lead to construction delays and other job site hazards. 


Finally, the soil must be analyzed with attention to soil swell and shrinkage factors. This leads us to the next phase.


Soil Testing & Analysis


This phase of site preparation is soil analysis.


Soil engineers will drill for core samples to get an accurate reading of the subterranean conditions and to understand the soil’s composition. Mistakes at this stage of the process can lead to:


  • Building failure
  • Soil collapse
  • Hazardous job conditions
  • Trench collapse during trench excavation


To get an accurate reading of the site, a soil engineer will conduct the following tests:


  • Moisture content test
  • Atterberg limits tests
  • The specific gravity of soil
  • The dry density of soil
  • Compaction (Proctor’s) test

Earthwork Excavation and Compaction


Once all of the factors are known, the project manager can draft a plan of how to proceed with the project. Heavy machinery will be mobilized and the earthwork scope will begin.  Our team will actively survey the site daily.


To get a bid on your next earthwork and excavation project, call us at Wollam Construction or learn more about our excavation construction process.