Slope Stabilization: Best Practices and Challenges

Association of Construction and Development
June 4, 2014 — 1,874 views  

Slope Stabilization: Best Practices and Challenges

Types of Slope Stabilization Failures

Before an excavation or construction company begins work that takes place on a slope, professionals must make sure that they follow certain guidelines provided by federal law. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides guidelines that every business must follow in order to promote a safe workplace for employees. OSHA slope regulations are aimed at protecting laborers from cave-ins, exposure to harmful substances and inhalation of dangerous fumes. The regulations also require companies to provide certain types of safety equipment and gear to workers.

As managers seek to become educated about slope guidelines, they should take time to understand the types of slope stabilization failures. Slope failure occurs when soil or rocks move in response to gravitational stresses. The soil or rocks may move as a result of natural forces, weather conditions, manmade conditions or the placement of construction equipment in the area. Flowage refers to the movement of unconsolidated materials that become enmeshed in the mass. Sliding refers to the downhill movement of a substance of soil or rocks. Falling happens when a piece of rock, cliff or other substance breaks away from a mass. Subsiding occurs when a mass sinks beneath the earth and causes a major shift in the foundation.

Techniques Used to Avoid Failures

Individuals can prevent subsidence and slope failure by paying attention to the physical appearance of a worksite. The moment an individual notices cracks in the ground or the flooring of a location, he or she should be alerted that subsiding may be occurring. The degradation of soil may also cause subsidence and slope failure. Clay soil may shrink and cause a major shift in bodies of water or trees.

Internal drainage may be required to move excess water that has accumulated beneath soil. Firms may need to work with a specialized contractor who has experience in removing excess water. Individuals should be careful in attempting to drain water, because a small pool of water may be an indication of a greater stream of water embedded in a cliff or soil. Re-grading the surface area or re-directing the surface water may be other options for a professional to consider. A professional may need to make an area flatter to provide better slope stability and seal any tension cracks in the ground or cliff.

Application of Best Practices

Professionals involved in a project that entails slope stabilization should carefully read through OSHA regulations. They should be aware of the risks of rock erosion and the required placement of various walls that may add security for workers. OSHA regulations also put forth a maximum allowable slope that is permitted for a project. Engineers and architects should understand the steepest incline that is permitted for an excavation site. For example, the actual slope being excavated may never surpass the maximum slope that is allowed. Stable rock must remain intact as individuals excavate a site. OSHA regulations specify the allowable degree angles for Type A, B and C soil. For Type A soil, the maximum allowable slope is a 53-degree angle. If professionals do not abide by OSHA regulations, a company may be subject to sanctions or penalty fines.

Association of Construction and Development