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  1. #1
    bruce treadaway's Avatar
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    Default excavating next to footings

    I have a question about a recent excavation done by a plumbing company to repair a broken water main at my apartment complex. The pipe itself was at least six feet deep and the soil would be classified as class "c" soil due to the water intrusion and was dug without shoring or appropriate width for "shelving" of the hole. the break in the pipe was less then 3' away measured horizontally from the bottom edge of a DOUBLE footing serving the stairwell for the upstairs units. In this scenario (if I am correct,) no excavating should be done next to a footing any closer than a 45 degree angle from the bottom edge of the footing (degree of repose) as to undermine or disturb the integrity of the stairwell footing. In this case the pipe should have been re-routed around the footing with the appropriate 45 degree angle of repose and could have been done easily by raising the depth of the pipe to 12" below frost level. This is Tucson Arizona, so there is no frost level so the re-route could have been done around the stairwell with a minimum pipe earth coverage of 12" and easily maintained the integrity of the surrounding footing at this depth with the minimum 45 degree angle of repose or more from the footing. I have been trying to find something from OSHA or the 2006 UPC or the 2009 IPC code that could prove my point. I was a licensed Journeymen plumber and licensed C-36 plumbing contractor in the State of California and was licensed using the 2003 UPC code. Does anyone on this forum now where I can find literature or reference material that I could view to show negligence? For some reason Tucson uses BOTH the 2006 UPC and the 2009 IPC code for plumbing which makes no sense because the 2 codes conflict with each other in many different sections. For example the UPC states that only 4" or larger waste pipe can have an 1/8th inch per foot fall whereas the IPC states that 3" pipe can be laid at 1/8th inch, plus many other conflicts. Would the more "stringent" of the 2 different codes be used for construction? Any link or website that you can provide me that shows the degree of repose to maintain the structural integrity of the footing would be greatly appreciated.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: excavating next to footings

    Quote Originally Posted by bruce treadaway View Post
    I have a question about a recent excavation done by a plumbing company to repair a broken water main at my apartment complex. The pipe itself was at least six feet deep and the soil would be classified as class "c" soil due to the water intrusion and was dug without shoring or appropriate width for "shelving" of the hole. the break in the pipe was less then 3' away measured horizontally from the bottom edge of a DOUBLE footing serving the stairwell for the upstairs units. In this scenario (if I am correct,) no excavating should be done next to a footing any closer than a 45 degree angle from the bottom edge of the footing (degree of repose) as to undermine or disturb the integrity of the stairwell footing. In this case the pipe should have been re-routed around the footing with the appropriate 45 degree angle of repose and could have been done easily by raising the depth of the pipe to 12" below frost level. This is Tucson Arizona, so there is no frost level so the re-route could have been done around the stairwell with a minimum pipe earth coverage of 12" and easily maintained the integrity of the surrounding footing at this depth with the minimum 45 degree angle of repose or more from the footing. I have been trying to find something from OSHA or the 2006 UPC or the 2009 IPC code that could prove my point. I was a licensed Journeymen plumber and licensed C-36 plumbing contractor in the State of California and was licensed using the 2003 UPC code. Does anyone on this forum now where I can find literature or reference material that I could view to show negligence? For some reason Tucson uses BOTH the 2006 UPC and the 2009 IPC code for plumbing which makes no sense because the 2 codes conflict with each other in many different sections. For example the UPC states that only 4" or larger waste pipe can have an 1/8th inch per foot fall whereas the IPC states that 3" pipe can be laid at 1/8th inch, plus many other conflicts. Would the more "stringent" of the 2 different codes be used for construction? Any link or website that you can provide me that shows the degree of repose to maintain the structural integrity of the footing would be greatly appreciated.
    So has this repair caused a problem?

    Have you contacted the municipal codes department? They will have the final say on the matter when it comes to and how the two code organizations cites are interpreted and used.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  3. #3
    bruce treadaway's Avatar
    bruce treadaway Guest

    Default Re: excavating next to footings

    no apparent settling or damage to footing noted as of yet,but obvious osha danger to laborers in the ditch without shoring.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: excavating next to footings

    Quote Originally Posted by bruce treadaway View Post
    no apparent settling or damage to footing noted as of yet,but obvious osha danger to laborers in the ditch without shoring.
    If this is a concern to you then call the city, they will most likely have a safety officer or department that handles this type of complaint. If the work is done and the ditch is filled in, most likely your complaint will fall on deaf ears. An OSHA offical pretty much has to catch the act while it is happening or see the problem first hand.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  5. #5
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    Default Re: excavating next to footings

    I may just be too tired but I can't really wrap my head around what you are asking but can offer this.... The 45 degree angle thing is a rule of thumb and a bit conservative. As in, worst soil condition (drop a pile of sand and see where it settles). Engineers will often allow/endorse steeper angles. Point being if this is the sole thing you're basing your complaint/opinion on you may be wrong.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: excavating next to footings

    What is your ultimate goal?

    Do you want to get the plumbing contractor in trouble for unsafe work practicies? Did you take any pictures of the trench, proximity of the spoil pile, unprotected workers in the trench, etc.?

    Are you worried about the workers safety and want to help the plumbing company better protect their workers?

    Are you afraid the footing is going to shift or fail because the soil was not compacted?

    I used to be a member of a Trench rescue squad. We used to carry a camera in our personal vehicles and drive around and take photos of people working in trenches. Most did not have trench boxes, ladders in the hole for escape, hardhats, lack of shoring, spoil piles too close, and all manner of other unsafe work practices. Lots of fun to watch the supervisor spot someone taking photos of his trench and calls an immediate halt to all work and everyone out of the hole. Then they all stand around until you leave. Drive around the corner and come back. Everyone is back in the hole doing the same unsafe stuff. Pull out the camera again and they often closed down the dig for the day. Sometimes they would have a trench box onsite the next day, sometimes they would get huffy and try to scare you off the building site. Long lens from across the street and they got no recourse.

    Most times the holes are filled in and the contractor onto the next job when you return the next day. Sad state of affairs. Not saying it is right or safe but just kinda getting a feel for what your goal is.

    Here's a tip. After a trench collapse look for the tools at the side of the trench. They place the tools on the lip of the trench when they bend over. Now you know where to dig to find the body.

    1 cubic foot of soil weighs 100 lbs. Imagine you are lying flat on your back and we place 1 cubic ft of soil on your chest and 1 on your belly. 200lbs. Exhale. 200 lbs pressing down. Try to inhale. Difficult or impossible because of the weight of the soil. Even when workers are buried in a standing position from the nipple line down, they often sufficate because the soil compresses and they cannot take another breath.

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Default Re: excavating next to footings

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    The 45 degree angle thing is a rule of thumb and a bit conservative.
    Engineers will often allow/endorse steeper angles. Point being if this is the sole thing you're basing your complaint/opinion on you may be wrong.
    The 45 degree is in the plumbing code and yes I have seen engineers authorize trenches/excavation withing that 45 degree plane.


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