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What is excavation?

In civil engineering, excavation is the procedure of removing soil or other materials from the earth to open up large cavities where the foundations for buildings, highways, bridges, tunnels, dams, and other structures will be built. Excavations are also common in other activities such as archaeology and mining.

What machinery is used for an excavation?

Each project may require the use of one or more types of machines depending on the conditions of the terrain and the goal of the excavation. The machinery commonly used during excavations includes excavators, backhoe loaders, bulldozers, cranes, hydraulic hammers, and dump trucks.

What risks are there during an excavation?

Collapses are probably the most obvious risk of excavation. The removal of soil can cause the collapse of the pit’s walls and the sudden sinking of the surrounding surface. However, there are other hazards associated with this activity, such as the release of toxic gases (including carbon monoxide and methane) that the underground layers may contain. Similarly, if excavation hits a gas or water pipe or a high-voltage line, both the project and the staff involved may be endangered.

Before starting an excavation, a rigorous analysis must be performed to identify any possible contingencies, and there must be careful observation of the terrain’s features, weather forecasts, the site, power lines, gas and water pipes, sewers, the presence of nearby buildings, etc. 

What ecological implications can an excavation have?

Excavations should be carried out while preventing the destruction of the habitats of flora and fauna as much as possible, especially when working in natural areas. Excavations may also entail soil erosion and the loss of nutrients, as well as the release of gases and polluting substances that could be trapped in the ground prior to starting work. 

Every project that involves excavation must take a preventive approach that is supportive of the surrounding environment and which includes alternatives to reduce the carbon footprint it could produce.

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