What Are Some Potential Environmental Hazards of Excavation Projects?

A variety of projects require excavation in New Jersey, including swimming pool installation, foundation digging, surface leveling, and landscaping services. Learn about potential hazards associated with excavation in NJ so that you can plan for a safe and proactive approach. 

When you are aware of some common environmental hazards of excavation, you will have the knowledge to avoid these dangers. For professional excavation services in New Jersey, look no further than Mikula Contracting. With our expertise and commitment to safety, you can carefully execute your plan for your New Jersey excavation project. 

Here are some environmental hazards of excavation to keep in mind.

Soil Erosion

Soil erosion occurs during excavation when water runoff, rain, or wind erodes the soil and turns once stable areas into dangerous areas. For example, trenches can collapse, fertile topsoil can flush away, and injuries can happen. 

During excavation, plan for soil erosion control measures. This can include control blankets to protect the soil during a downpour, soil stabilizers, or packing down the soil to protect it from natural erosion. Protect the workers and increase safety on the job site by taking these soil erosion prevention steps.

Potential Underground Hazards

You don’t always know what you’re going to uncover during excavation. Finding contaminated or hazardous soil or even an underground oil tank is something all contractors should be prepared for. Be ready to test the soil when you notice a suspicious texture, smell, or structure that makes you suspicious of a chemical spill. 

Water is commonly used during any excavation project and can spread the contaminants, further magnifying the environmental impact. The moment you find hazardous soil or contaminants, take remediation measures very seriously to avoid danger to nearby occupants and future residents of the property. When encountering soil contamination, be sure all workers wear personal protective equipment (PPE), enlist multiple instances of soil testing, and renew the soil with fertile, healthy backfill.

Trench Collapses or Cave-Ins

Excavation requires digging deep holes and trenches to build foundations or install pipes. Contractors work in the trenches, making them vulnerable to accidents if the trench collapses. Severe injuries or fatalities could be the result. 

To prevent trench collapses, a comprehensive protective system must be implemented. This includes using trench boxes, shoring, or other protective structures to support trench walls and prevent cave-ins. Inspecting the trenches, evaluating the stability of the soil, and training contractors for safety protocols are essential to maintaining safe practices during excavation in New Jersey. 

Dust or Other Airborne Particles

Excavation projects can generate dust and airborne particles, presenting environmental hazards as well as potential health risks for workers and nearby communities. When working with dry and fine-grained soil, the wind can whip it into the air, leading to workers and nearby passersby breathing in contaminants or hazardous substances. These airborne dust particles can lead to human health issues that should be avoided at all costs. 

An excavation site should employ a dust control protocol to reduce the spread of dust into the air and to surrounding people. Many contractors spray the dry dirt with water to moisten it, making it less likely to become airborne during a strong gust of wind. A ventilator can be used to collect loose dust in the air. And workers can wear masks and PPE to protect themselves from inhaling hazardous substances. 

By effectively managing dust and airborne particles, excavation projects can minimize environmental impacts and protect the health of workers and the surrounding community.

Water-Related Hazards

Any construction site can be a place of water accumulation due to storms, groundwater seepage, or nearby bodies of water. Water runoff can lead to erosion on the site, impacting the soil stability. Water can also carry pollutants into nearby water sources. 

Standing water also attracts mosquitoes and other pests, making the work site uncomfortable and posing additional environmental and health risks. Mosquitoes not only bite but also spread disease. Rats and roaches make themselves at home, creating a germ-filled breeding ground for pests during construction. 

Water management is essential for excavation. This may involve installing silt fences or sediment basins to control runoff and sedimentation. You can also install temporary drains or runoff paths that make the area safe for the duration of the excavation project. By effectively managing water-related hazards, excavation projects can minimize soil erosion, maintain water quality, and protect the surrounding ecosystem.

Hitting Underground Utilities

One hazard of excavation is the risk of fires. Especially if you are digging close to a gas line, you need to be extra careful to eliminate the risk of hitting a pipe underground. If a contractor is ready to dig without surveying the ground and calling in a markout, it is time to find a new excavation contractor. 

Safeguard against these hazards by implementing proper safety protocols and adhering to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines. This may involve using trench boxes to provide protective shielding, conducting thorough gas detection and monitoring, and establishing clear evacuation procedures in the event of a hazardous situation. Reduce the risk of fire by doing your due diligence and researching before a dig occurs.

In addition to hitting a gas line, other utility lines also pose a danger to the excavation site. Hitting a live electricity wire can lead to electrocution. Cutting into plumbing systems can lead to leak and damage that requires expensive repairs.

Every excavation contractor should mark the land with the exact location of underground utility lines to avoid any damage to existing networks. While mistakes can happen, when working with an experienced contractor you should have peace of mind that you have hired professionals that will avoid mistakes and mitigate issues if they arise.

Mikula Contracting Is Your New Jersey Excavation Solution

Mikula Contracting has the experience you need for a successful excavation project in NJ. Our dedication to safety, customer communication, and state-of-the-art equipment is evident in every project we complete. 

We provide top-quality excavation services tailored to the unique needs of each customer. Our team at Mikula Contracting follows the most modern practices, adheres to regulatory requirements, and uses advanced techniques and equipment to ensure efficient excavation operations. Contact us today to find out how we can help. 

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