As the seasons change and poorer weather sets in, construction sites practices must be adapted to manage and limit the impact of wind and rain.
Stepping up maintenance measures and implementing preventative or protective measures will ensure bad weather doesn’t cause excess erosion, slippages or floods.
The key considerations when preparing a site ahead of adverse winter weather are:
Silt control measures both reduce the creation of silt and capture that which does form. Activities to remove vegetation or strip soil should be stopped during the winter months to avoid silt formation. If ground is not adequately prepared, and isn’t regularly maintained, silt and mud can be carried around site or even off-site and onto surrounding roads, potentially causing hazards. Silt fences and sediment mats are commonly used for silt control, providing lateral and downward resistance to water run-off. These allow water to be captured and disposed of elsewhere, or to evaporate or drain into the ground.
Exposed ground is susceptible to erosion from water run-off, as soil, mud, silt or sand can be blown or washed away by adverse weather. Getting erosion control right from the get-go of a project will reduce the requirements for other measures in the long-term, such as settlement ponds. Biodegradable erosion blankets can protect the ground as a layer of natural or man-made fibre instead absorbs the impact of rainfall or run-off.
Stable slopes and embankments will be resistant to water run-off, preserving their integrity and limiting erosion. The stability and resistance of embankments can be reinforced with geocells, which resist downward movement from weather. Similarly, seeded erosion blankets (as above) support vegetation to establish, allowing plants’ roots to further stabilize ground. However, these do not offer immediate stability as vegetation takes time to establish, but both solutions can be permeable to facilitate drainage while supporting the aesthetic or protective requirements of embankments.
Traffic routes stabilization
High traffic areas such as haul routes or car parks are at increased risk of erosion and becoming unstable in winter. If geogrids and geotextiles have been installed these areas will have strengthened ground, less susceptible to erosion. By dissipating the impact and volume of traffic moving above them geogrids maintain the grounds strength, reinforcing erosion and silt control measures. Some geotextile membranes can also support drainage of water run-off, improving a sites ability to clear surface water during the winter.
The risk of heavy rain causing floods on-site can be reduced by careful planning year-round. The above measures for preventing erosion, ensuring silt control and maintaining stable ground will contribute to this. Flood prevention should also account for the potential impact of nearby watercourses. Understanding a site’s proximity to watercourses, drainage capabilities and the history of its geography and prevailing weather will inform on what measures are required, including how to drain, divert, capture or contain water. Planning should cover how to protect workers and neighbours, prevent pollution, and preserve equipment, particularly any hazardous materials.
Without the above measures, sites risk creating pollution if materials disturbed by winter weather find their way into watercourses.
Whatever the controls implemented are, they should be regularly inspected and maintained, to ensure ongoing effectiveness and any damage or faults are quickly spotted and repaired.
Keeping sites in good order – maintaining the preventative and protective measures which reduce erosion and improve embankment stabilization and silt control – is essential in winter.
Adapting practices will reduce risk, making sites easier to maintain and safer to work on, and ensure environmental, financial and reputational risks are avoided.
We can provide advice and solutions to help with environmental protection, from geotechnical supplies advice to products installation and application. Get in touch for more information on how to optimize your projects.