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Excavation Foreman: Job Description, Outlook and Duties

Learn about a career as an excavation foreman. Research the job description and career outlook, and learn about the job duties required before making an informed decision about working in this field.

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Job Description

An excavation foreman plans and directs the digging and removal of earth as part of construction projects. Also referred to as a grade or grading foreman, this professional might need to maintain a budget and keep to a timeline while ensuring the overall productivity, quality and safety of a project. As a supervisor with deadlines, this individual often might work over 40 hours per week. A successful excavation foreman should be able to manage various activities at once, sometimes on different construction sites.

As with all construction managers, an excavation foreman needs to be flexible and decisive. This individual should work well under pressure and be able to face and overcome unexpected obstacles, including emergencies and bad weather. Excavation work is performed in projects that involve building highways, installing pipes or reclaiming mine areas. The grading foreman is responsible for the crew's overall safety and needs to recognize and react to any perceived safety threats on site. Possible excavation dangers include cave-ins, accidental falls and damage to unseen pipes or power lines.

Job Duties

An excavation foreman provides safeguards against dangers that are particular to excavation work. For example, the excavation foreman might decide which reinforcement system to install on the walls of a deep trench to prevent a cave-in. The foreman should be familiar with the type of soils on a site and should ensure appropriate monitoring of oxygen levels within an enclosed excavation area. An excavation foreman also might give specific instructions on how to excavate, including at what angle and to what depth the crew should dig.

Other responsibilities might include obtaining necessary permits, ensuring the project's compliance with codes and regulations, and overseeing team hiring. An excavation foreman might approve time cards and resolve disputes between workers. Knowledge in the use of specific computer software for project planning purposes might be necessary.

Career and Salary Information

Though statistics specific to excavation foremen are not currently available, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 17% growth in employment of construction managers in the years 2010-2020 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that construction managers earned $82,790 as a median annual salary in 2012.

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