Assessing the Construction Blasting Risk
Last Updated: 1/11/2018 11:03 a.m.
When the majority of Americans hear the word explosives, what might first come to mind are military applications, dramatic action/adventure movies or even highly publicized acts of international terrorism. Unfortunately for industries that rely heavily on blasting for applications such as excavating rock or demolishing concrete, there clearly are many negative connotations attached to explosives. This makes it essential for anyone using explosives to take precautions in every aspect of blasting from handling, storing and transporting to detonation and civil construction blast containment to ensure safety and alter the public perception.
Despite the fact explosives can be used in disruptive ways, the reality is thousands of companies across the U.S. safely execute blasting in countless applications every week. Successfully mitigating risks related to using explosives in construction depends on project design and management including accurately assessing risks, hiring or contracting skilled and certified blasters, partnering with reputable construction blast mats suppliers and providing on-site work supervision and support.
Blasting Challenges and Factors Relating to Public Perception
When you're blasting or using explosives, the spotlight is on your operation, for better or worse. Even before you start, many times you're forced to answer to local community groups and environmental activists challenging the safety and impacts. These types of challenges can manifest themselves in the form of everything from legal injunctions and protests to public hearings and appeals to agencies.
To avoid work stoppages and delays, project engineers and planners need to be prepared to demonstrate how blasting will be conducted without incident. Otherwise the results can not only be an increase in injuries and damages, but also higher expenses and slower production methods that often come with their own set of limitations and detractors.
Understanding Construction Blast Risks
Industry experts and independent analysts agree virtually any type of construction site blasting can be accomplished safely and without incident when you take the proper precautions. However, when the dangers of blasting are underestimated, when businesses fail to hire the right people, don't choose quality construction blast mat suppliers or simply cut corners, people can get hurt, property damaged and worse. Among the common risks related to private, commercial and civil construction blast containment, project design, planning and execution include:
- Flying debris — Any time you have a situation that involves heavy and jagged debris hurling through the air at fast speeds, it's a major safety concern. To avoid damage and injury from flyrock, companies need to create a plan that involves establishing perimeters, clearing areas, overseeing work and utilizing blasting mats in civil construction and mining.
- Premature detonation/misfires — Half the battle of safely detonating explosives is having containment measures in place and ensuring everyone involved is ready and prepared at the right time. To avoid the potentially catastrophic results of a blast going off prematurely, it's critical to use qualified blasters and technicians that follow best practices and mandated safety procedures.
- Environmental impacts — Everything from air and noise pollution to the physical and psychological impact on animals are common public concerns when blasting is proposed. By taking a measured approach that includes studying and evaluating the area and potential impacts as well as using a confluence of safer and quieter blasting techniques when necessary, project leaders can demonstrate the feasibility of conducting blasting and how risks will be mitigated.
- Impact to utilities — Another frequent concern to the public with the use of explosives is damage or disturbance to pipe lines, power grids or other existing civil infrastructure. A detailed and layered plan for construction blast containment, site inspections and impact evaluations clearly identify risks and establishes methods and requirements for eliminating them.
- Local disruptions — Whether there's a school or hospital nearby or an important highway or transportation route in the vicinity, measures must be taken to not disturb the local community or cause avoidable inconveniences. This can be accomplished through strategic scheduling, effective communication with the public and by following pre-qualified blasting safety requirements.
- Secondary activities — While the focus of safety is typically on the actual blasting of explosives on a construction site, there are just as many risks relating to handling, transporting and disposing of explosive materials. Proper training and hiring of experienced employees ensures workers understand their responsibilities, are up to date on current requirements and are capable of following federal and state guidelines.
Effective Civil Construction Blast Containment and Safety
Primary concerns for maintaining site safety and eliminating injuries include creating effective shelters using products such as blasting mats in civil construction and locking down the blast area. Additional components of an effective blast management system include but are not limited to:
- Making a thorough evaluation of the site including determining the bounds of the blast area and geological makeup of the materials
- Determining the right amount of explosives to use and the appropriate blasting methods based on physical attributes, project specifications and external factors
- Providing training for staff and hiring individuals with the skills and experience to safely execute their duties and responsibilities
- Clearing all employees (and unauthorized personnel) from the impact area and keeping them out until an all-clear signal denotes it's safe to return to work
- Using blasting mats for civil construction and mining that stop flyrock and also establishing an adequate blasting shelter that protects individuals closest to the impact area
A Team-Wide Approach to Construction Blast Containment
From working with government offices to develop the most effective safety measures to using engineers and certified blasters to create and execute a carefully vetted plan, it takes a comprehensive approach to limit the risks of using explosives in construction. By lowering incidents of injury, damage and disruption, businesses can simultaniously ease public concerns around blasting, reduce negative outcomes and improve cost-to-profit ratios.
If you are interested in learning more about assessing and managing risks while using explosives or choosing the right blasting mats for commercial or civil construction, contact TM International, LLC today. We're the construction blast mats suppliers you can trust for lightweight, eco-friendly, durable and easily transportable blast mats and related blast containment products and services.