On Thursday, March 9, the LeChase Southeast team gathered at the Murray-Massenburg Elementary School project site in Durham for the third Field School session. This session, led by Senior Project Manager Stuart Short, focused on soil mechanics.
Short opened the session with a question: As a construction manager, what are our primary responsibilities? The common denominator is risk management – and that includes soils. Soils have many risks associated with them which can vary from project to project. Some of these risks include excavation and trenching safety, dirty runoff or underground contamination, classified versus unclassified sites, digging foundations, backfilling and verifying the soils are adequate to support the foundation construction.
Wayne Sloan from Terracon added to the session by demonstrating the two types of tests for compaction: dynamic cone penetrometer (DCP) and nuclear density test (NDT). Sloan noted that DCP testing is necessary below foundations and NDT is used almost everywhere else. The key to safe soil mechanics is consistent communication with a testing representative on earthwork and concrete operations to ensure the required material testing is performed and documented, including for rework and demolition of existing concrete foundations.
Short wrapped up the session by walking through the project life cycle of soil mechanics, from when an owner purchases a piece of property, to geotechnical assessment, to design and civil engineering recommendations. Along with a soil compaction safety handout, he noted: “when it comes to safety, trust your gut – if an excavation doesn’t look safe, it probably isn’t.”
The wrap-up was followed by some quick facts and discussion questions for the attendees.