Avalanche Warning: 7 Tips For Preventing Rock Fall Injuries On Your Construction Site

Posted on: 20 January 2017

Rock fall involves debris and rocks rolling downward, either passively or actively. This is definitely not something you want to see when you have a construction crew on site working along a hillside. Fortunately, for the safety of your workers, there are many ways to protect the site from rock fall. Different methods are used in unstabilized areas. While it is impossible to completely protect a site from every type of rock, these steps could very well save lives.

1. Active and passive measures are both important.

Take active measures from day one to prevent damage of property or persons. Active measures will absorb the impact of rocks that fall off a cliff or down a hillside as well as prevent falls from occurring. At the same time, you cannot discount the importance of passive measures to catch rocks after falls have already occurred.

2. Hexagonal mesh provides extensive restraint.

The benefit of hexagonal mesh in comparison to other options is that it is double twisted. This means it can stretch more without giving way when heavy rocks fall on it. This also allows rocks to adjust themselves on the mesh.

3. Soil embankments are helpful but not the first choice.

In cases where you cannot implement a mesh or drape protection or you are unable to reach part of the hill's slope, you may consider a soil embankment. These methods of protection are relatively low cost and do not require much maintenance.

4. Understand different causes of rock falls.

When you understand the reasons why rocks fall, you may be able to prevent them or at least know when to expect them. For instance, wedge falls typically occur with limestone or siltstone, whereas toppling may occur in cases where the crew is working on the hillside and removing top layers of the rock. Rain, earthquakes, melting snow, wind, and even animals can set off a rock fall.

5. You may be able to reinforce the slope.

Rock bolts and steel pins are normal ways to reinforce the slope and prevent rock falls. You may also consider buttresses and cable lashing. You may also be able to prevent erosion by draining the area ahead of time.

6. Inform construction workers and visitors of potential dangers.

Placing signs around the work site is just one of many ways to alert visitors to dangers as well as to remind your workers that rocks may fall.

7. Rock fall prevention walls are available.

These walls can be constructed from the middle section of a slope and downward, stopping rocks in their tracks. This can also reduce the impact of rocks that do fall.

Stabilizing soil is an essential part of working safely. Need help protecting your crew? Contact a business that specializes in preventing rock fall injuries, such as Geotech Solutions Inc.

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