Site crews should minimize impacts of activities on the environment—protecting birds, limiting dust, and reducing spill potential
We all understand that ecological and environmental degradation is a serious issue. If there is a construction project in your neighborhood, residents should expect certain standards from construction site crews. And residents should demand contractors abide by all applicable federal, provincial, and local environmental regulations and conduct themselves in a way that protects and preserves the quality of the area.
What should you expect? Here are seven important things to look for when you see construction.
1. Minimized environmental impacts
Typically, site managers are responsible for scheduling the construction activities to ensure that environmental issues are minimized. In addition, all supervisory personnel, including consultants, subcontractors, and suppliers, are responsible for providing proper training to their employees so that everyone working on the project is aware of what is expected and makes environmental protection a priority. So, we should expect that all environmental measures are in place from day one!
2. Active site inspectors/personnel
Site personnel are generally required to understand what environmental protection activities are and how they are performed, although site inspectors are often on site to make sure all construction operations, materials, and equipment comply with regulations and avoid any direct physical damage to the area. Sediments, noise, vibration, dust, chemicals, and harmful emissions are among the most common issues for neighbors, so supervisors and site inspectors need to make sure the project moves forward with no harmful interference to the public.
3. Erosion control measures
Generally, all erosion and siltation control should be placed prior to the start of construction and be maintained until vegetation has been established on disturbed areas. Erosion and siltation control measures reduce the potential for eroded soil to be transported and deposited beyond the limits of the construction site.
4. Protecting birds and nests
There are laws in place that protect birds. Work activities such as vegetation clearing or grubbing should not be conducted in bird habitat during the breeding season. It may be possible for a qualified biologist to conduct a nest survey prior to commencement of the work to locate and identify active nests, however, the nest surveys can be ineffective in more complex habitats. Residents have a right to ask what measures have been taken to protect birds and to request access to reports prepared for the project.
5. Hazardous material spill preparation
Site crews also must take all necessary precautions to reduce the likelihood of hazardous material spills through the implementation of effective prevention strategies, generally with the use of proper containers and proper handling techniques. Crew members need to be able to show that they are prepared to respond to a spill and have an effective plan in place before construction begins. If a spill occurs, necessary steps should be implemented to contain, clean, and restore the area to its original state. Prevention of petroleum products, grout, adhesives, or other hazardous or deleterious substances from entering watercourses should be managed during all refueling, maintenance, and washing of equipment. For mobile equipment, no washing is allowed near watercourses.
6. Noise and dust control
Residents should expect the project to minimize unnecessary noise and vibration produced from equipment. This is typically achieved by regularly maintaining the operating equipment and minimizing the idling time. It is also important to minimize the escape of dust resulting from construction operations so that no visible dust or invisible hazardous particles reach residential or sensitive areas. Expect to see an on‐site water truck to help with dust suppression for road traffic.
7. Respect for archaeological finds
If operations expose any items that may indicate an archaeological find, such as building remains, hardware, accumulations of bones or pottery, the Ministry of Culture or other relevant authorities need to be notified. Archaeological resources are important for understanding our past, and they require further investigation. In such cases, site work is suspended until confirmation is received to continue the operation.
The topics that I’ve discussed above are only some of the mitigation measures residents should expect during any construction activity in their neighborhoods. Caring for the environment doesn’t require people to become environmental activists. If we understand the important environmental issues and be proactive in holding projects accountable, we can help to improve the quality of our living space.
About the Author
Keivan Rafie’s engineering expertise is in tunneling, mining, and ground-improvement projects. For the last 15 years, he’s worked across the globe in Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and North America. Keivan’s knowledge and experience go deep with tunneling methods, such as drill and blast, NATM, and TBM, and he is involved in all stages from design to manufacturing and construction.More Content by Keivan Rafie