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Excavations
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Excavations
(Groundwork, Soil Investigations, Geotechnical Design Studies)

All construction, maintenance and engineering works are subject to the requirements of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM). CDM places certain specific duties directly on the designers of excavations, groundwork, soil investigation (SI) work or geotechnical design studies, and the UCL manager responsible for the works must ensure these duties are addressed by their contractor or maintenance operations team. They are:
  • To eliminate hazards where feasible
  • To reduce risks from those hazards that cannot be eliminated
  • To provide information on residual risks if they are significant
Hazards to workers in excavations

Whilst each activity will entail specific hazards, some generic hazards common to many processes can be listed:
  • Exposure to dangerous substances; residual fluids from historic property use or processes and ground contaminants
  • Noise and vibration
  • Ground water
  • Live energy services networks and systems
  • Manual handling
  • Interactions with heavy plant - this may be in circulation around the site or in the process itself, may be struck by or trapped by the machinery and exhaust fumes from plant/machinery
  • Poor access to or organisation of the workplace - working in confined spaces or in poor conditions underfoot
  • Workplace stability - excavations or near temporarily unstable structures or machinery
  • Falls from height - whether into excavations or working in excavations
  • Falling objects or debris
  • Dust management systems
Whilst it may not be immediately obvious that a designer can influence these areas, the table below shows some ways in which they can do just that.

Hazards Hazard mitigation - Designer Opportunity
Exposure to dangerous substances, live energy services, groundwater, noise, vibration, dust and plant/machinery fumes Ensure SI provides good assessment of service locations, contamination, water table levels and pass the information on. Obtain existing energy services layout drawings or commission surveys to locate and mark the services in situ. Design to eliminate, reduce or protect noise, vibration and dust/fume production where possible.
Poor access to the workplace - work at height, plant, personnel and materials. Design adequate working platform for access by plant and workers, ensure SI is designed to give ground parameters and understand drainage at shallow depth.
Workplace stability, temporary works design considerations Design takes stability of neighbouring buildings into account, ensure excavations are stable in temporary condition or parameters are known such that adequate temporary shoring can be designed.

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