The Importance of Geotechnical Testing in Trenching and Boring Safety

September 15, 2017


It's easy to write off excavation work as a simple job that requires little more than heavy machinery and the ability to dig. As it turns out, there are many different ways that an excavation can go wrong. A poorly done excavation, whether by way of horizontal boring or a fully exposed trenching, can lead to damage to property as well as potential injury to the workers at the site. Today we are going to focus on how important geotechnical testing can be in regards to trenching and boring. After learning about geotechnical testing you will never look at a construction site the same.

What is Geotechnical Testing?

Look at the ground and understand that what you see is far from what you get. The earth is literally comprised of different materials and layered like a messy sandwich. You can't dig in two places and expect to get the same thing when your shovel leaves the ground. Geotechnical testing involves the work of specialised engineers: geotechnical engineers as well as engineering geologists. These professionals work to take stock of the soil that is to be dealt with at a construction site. Geotechnical testing is a vital part of the excavation process no matter what you are doing: trenching or boring.

Geotechnical investigating can be an exhaustive process that involves a mix of laboratory testing, tools in the ground, and a physical walk through. These tests will compile information regarding the composite of the soil including its weight, permeability and bearing capacity. Specific tests will change based on the needs of the project: a building with a deeper foundation will require more exhaustive testing than one that requires shallow entry.

How does Geotechnical Testing improve safety?

Trenching and boring are two sides of the same coin. A trench is a long, open excavation that is deeper than it is wide. These excavations have many important uses for construction crews from running water pipes to installing electricity. Boring involves drilling straight down for the purpose of installing posts, conduit, or something of that nature. These are obviously important tasks and safety is paramount. How does Geotechnical Testing actually improve the safety of this project?

1) Testing determines foundation requirements.

Soil complexities will dramatically change the needs of the construction crew. From building material to installation, soil make up can have an impact.

2) Testing improves wall strength.

The most important aspect of both boring and trenching is the strength of the wall. Soil testing and geotechnical testing will allow the engineers to understand what the wall can support in terms of lateral strength.

3) Testing reveals long-term health.

Construction is only good if it is sturdy. Geotechnical testing allows construction crews to understand potential timelines in regards to their work. A negative soil readout may require that a building be moved to a better location so as not to suffer damage in the future.

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