Retaining Works – Customized solutions to ensure safety
The retaining works sector includes business areas as varied as soil retention earthworks, reinforcing a structure at risk of collapsing (a building, wall, concrete works, roadway, etc.) and protection against falling rocks in the mountains.
Through its subsidiary Sofiter, Titanobel supports this demand throughout France by providing customized solutions adapted to all scenarios and designed to customer specifications by our specialist design department.
The various types of works relating to this line of business are as follows:
- Retaining works (supporting land during earthworks):
- Anchored wall with shotcrete
- Soldier-pile wall (wooden or concrete-reinforced)
- Various types of anchoring
- Special foundations (taking up the weight of a building, works or a roadway at a depth):
- Protection against falling rocks:
- Protective net or mesh
A satisfied project leader
Olivier is a Technical Manager at Edifim, a project leader established in the Annecy basin. With over 10 years experience in property development, what was involved for Edifim and Sofiter was an initial collaboration concerning the “Carré des Sens” project located in Annecy-le-Vieux. The construction includes 35 apartments in 3 buildings laid out over a shared basement, with the complex located on a steeply sloping urban tenement. The specific feature of this operation lies in the use of several underpinning techniques implemented on the property line, and on a plot of land that is relatively compact. As no authorization had been received to use the neighbouring sub-soil, this prompted us to draw up specifications including lining with self-stable soldier-pile walls sunk into the ground at the project’s lowest heights, and walls using secant piles in zones involving greater heights. The works also feature a small zone where there is a soldier-pile wall to be kept in the final phase, with shotcrete with a floated finish as finishing works, and zones featuring simple anchorings in the interim phase.
What are Sofiter’s strengths for you, at your worksite?
Above and beyond managing the aforementioned technical constraints, there is a specific concern for the people living nearby. We were able to assess the company’s responsiveness to this issue as it had to help clean the surrounding area of dust deposits caused during the project period (April to June). Sofiter also helped establish an atmosphere of trust with the people living nearby. The worksite manager has always been attentive to them, and no negative feedback was sent to the project management…
How would you qualify the involvement of the workforce in the safety of your worksite?
The professionalism of the company’s teams in relation to safety was shown by the implementation of special suggestions not set out in the contract, with this being done on their own initiative. Additional nailing was carried out to stop localized water infiltration into the earthworks. Special care given to preparing the project helped to avoid any disturbance to a major gas pipe in the vicinity of the operation (locating and marking out the pipe).
What is your opinion of the expertise (project development, technical adaptations during the project, instrumentation and monitoring of retaining works) provided by Sofiter?
In terms of consultation, the company came up with proposals for solutions not envisaged by the project leader during the study phase. This allowed us to complete the project within budget and without any consequences for the ancillary lots (no need for stays).
A career in the Retaining Works sector
Claude is a worksite manager in the Rhône-Alpes region who is assigned to our agency in Saint-Rambert-en-Bugey (Ain). He has 35 years’ experience and gives us his first-hand account as a man who has seen our trade change over time.
You have spent 35 years in the Retaining Works sector; isn’t that too long?
No, not at all. I began my career as a driller, and then I worked in all of the jobs required for retaining works projects (cement mixer operator, shotcrete sprayer, etc.), and I am currently a worksite manager at Sofiter. Our work is not at all monotonous; every worksite has its own specific features, depending on previous first-hand accounts of the project, the environment and the geology, there are always discoveries to be made.
What changes have you experienced during your career with Sofiter?
For me, one of the main changes over the last few years has been raising the whole company’s awareness about safety issues. The heavy equipment and machinery are now generally fitted with systems designed to reduce the risk of accidents. The workforce is better protected and better trained in the hazards involved in our line of work.
There have also been changes in the types of worksite that we work on, and changes to our drilling techniques; the hole diameters have also increased mainly due to increasingly demanding land and environmental constraints.
What makes Sofiter stand out from the competitors in the retaining works market?
I think we are very responsive, due to the multi-skilled nature of our workforce and the extensive range of our equipment base. Emergency intervention at a worksite in the event of earth movements is our hallmark.
Our advanced technical knowledge and the quality of our work make us a benchmark in the sector, and the experience and skills of our workforce have a lot to do with that. Lastly, as I said before, the safety level at our worksites is everyone’s concern; there is always room for improvement and we make improvements on a daily basis.