It’s Dirty Dirt But Someone’s Got To Clean It

At a Glance

Digging out tons of soil, planting vegetation to support habitats, and cleaning waterways may seem like inherently dirty jobs. Yet cleanliness and organization are crucial to both quality work and the safety of the job site. GZA’s Stephanie Turkot, Assistant Project Manager, sat down with us to talk about why.

For Want Of A Nail

To explain why cleanliness and organization is so important, Stephanie points to the humble tarp. “When dealing with contaminated soil, we have a soil management plan, which tells everyone on the site how soil should be moved, placed, and handled,” she says. Part of her job as a project manager is to ensure the plan is followed, which often includes putting a barrier between the soil that’s removed and other soils on the site. It also includes communication, which is another important key factor. 

“In the long run, let’s say we didn’t use the tarp. If there’s a delay, and they can last for years, as precipitation falls on the soil, contamination leaches into the ground, and suddenly you’re spending far more to fix that than you ever would for a tarp.”
Similarly, keeping the site clean helps with daily safety concerns, such as reducing tripping and slipping hazards. Something as simple as picking up debris before starting work pays off later, especially when you’re on a schedule.  

It’s The Details

Stephanie explains that the details are on her mind from the beginning. “Whenever I get to a site, I mobilize my vehicle and think ‘Where are we going to set up?’ I make sure the eyewash and first aid are accessible as part of the first setup, for example.” As tools and equipment arrive, she organizes them to be both accessible and clear of any pathways.

“A lot of these jobs, we’re under a timeframe to get things done,” so having a detailed plan in place helps keep to the schedule and limit issues. It’s part of the process to look at the site beforehand, not just its present, but its past. ““We  spend time reviewing site documents and viewing the site on Google Earth,” Stephanie says, with the understanding that there’s only so much information. “Having these plans in place help keep the site clean beforehand.”

Be Flexible

No plan can anticipate everything, and weather, in particular, can bring surprises that need to be managed. “Organizing yourself when you get the project helps stay on top of the weather. You can proactively think about what you can do. If you’ve got four hours outside and four inside, you can prioritize in the face of time pressures.” 
It's easy to assume any job involving contaminants or soil is a dirty one. Yet as any project manager can tell you, even the dirtiest job can be an organized, safe one.

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