Considerations For Every Geotechnical Site Investigation

by | May 6, 2020

Undertaking a geotechnical site investigation is no small feat. It requires extensive planning, and there are several key considerations to make before you even get on site. It isn’t simply a case of getting there, drilling a hole and going on your way again, as many people seem to think. Whether it be the environmental or financial, time constraints or restricted access, there’s a lot of groundwork to be done before you get onto the site, itself. The team here at Borehole Solutions, one of the UK’s leading geotechnical drilling companies, wanted to give a comprehensive rundown of things that need to be thought about when approaching a potential drilling job. These are by no means the only considerations, but they are the major ones, and they should be the absolute minimum that any company should think about before any drilling work.

The Borehole team drilling in Berlin.

Laying The Foundations

Before you even touch a piece of equipment, a geotechnical drilling company needs to do its due diligence. This means carrying out research into the proposed site. This involves firstly researching the geology of the area and ascertaining what formation will be being bored into. This is vitally important as certain rigs are better suited to certain formation. Sonic drilling, for example works best in unconsolidated formations whilst cable percussion drilling is suited to both consolidated and unconsolidated formations. This research also helps give an idea of any potential problems including, but not limited to: subsidence, landslides, flooding and potential chemical leakages such as radon.

Prior to the main drilling process itself, most investigative drilling companies will carry out on-site testing to confirm that the strategy they have lined up will work in practice. This can be something as simple as SPT (Standard Penetration Testing) or a Vane Shear test. These preliminary stages help companies like Borehole Solutions build a profile for the site. This ensures that they’re as well-prepared as possible for when the drilling commences.

Risk Assessment & Health And Safety

Some people regard health and safety as unnecessary, they see it as red tape, a box-ticking exercise to get regulatory bodies off their back. This couldn’t be further from the truth, however. Health and safety measures such as detailed risk assessments are put in place and carried out with very good reason. Drilling is a dangerous industry, there’s no two ways around it. In previous years, a haphazard and slack approach to health and safety has seen countless cases of personal injury; incidents which could and should have been easily avoided. Health and safety measures massively mitigate risk and ensure the safety of all those people working on site.

The importance of health & safety on-site cannot be overstated.

You should always enquire as to a geotechnical drilling company’s health and safety certifications. This is often a good way to distinguish between those contractors who are trustworthy, and those who may be more likely to skimp on procedure. If they don’t take their health and safety seriously, the chances are that they won’t take their drilling work as seriously, either. The personable, family tone of many contracting companies is something that makes them such attractive businesses to work with. However, this should never be mistaken for complacency, negligence or lack of professionalism in their approach to work.

Environmental

A major factor informing any geotechnical site investigation is the proposed site’s ecological and environmental situation. A drilling company can’t just go gung-ho into a job without having assessed the potential environmental impacts that their work may have. Consideration needs to be given to the flora and fauna in immediate proximity to the proposed borehole. Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) should be carried out to give the fullest picture possible of the drilling situation. There’ll inevitably be some environmental impacts to any drilling job as the ground and surrounding ground is being disturbed. Assessments ensure that more significant damage isn’t caused, however, and for this reason, they’re vital.

Space/Access

In today’s world, the urbanised nature of much of the UK means that geotechnical site investigations are no longer constrained to the muddy fields of the countryside. Increasingly, property development companies and big corporate players are looking to have investigative work undertaken in the hearts of towns and cities across the nation. The fact that you may be a classy hotel in the heart of London makes little difference anymore to the drilling options available to you. Drilling in urban environments presents its own challenges, however. The major one being the issue of restricted space.

When operating in tighter confines, you don’t have the option of using conventional drilling rigs; the sort of rigs that you would normally use in a large, expansive space. Extra considerations need to be taken when using these restricted access drilling rigs. These considerations include avoiding pipelines and wirings, reducing the impact on the surrounding area where possible (in terms of noise pollution, for example).

Sites with limited/restricted access present their own challenges.

Time

The less time a job takes, the more money is saved. These savings apply for both the drilling company and the client who has requested the work being done, alike. Reduced time on site also leads to reduced energy expenditure and a diminished impact on the local environment. However, site investigations should never be rushed. A hurried job will inevitably lead to a poorer job. A poorer job usually leads to further work on the site down the line. Aiming to save time can also result in the cutting of corners. This is where accidents and personal injuries tend to occur, so, for everyone involved, taking the requisite time to finish the job properly is crucial.

Hopefully, after reading this, you’ll have more of a sense of how much work goes into every geotechnical site investigation. Expertise paired with graft, research with skill. These are traits that very few geotechnical drilling companies possess, Borehole Solutions being amongst those few. So, if you’d like to find out more about our geotechnical site investigation services, then get in touch! Call us today on 01733 200 501. Our comprehensive drilling services will have you covered whatever project you need doing.