EM 385 Guide: Temporary Facilities

Posted On: July 30, 2018
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The United States Army Corps of Engineer (USACE) Safety and Health Requirements Manual, EM 385-1-1, is specifically devised for contractors working on military projects. The manual provides regulations regarding construction on military sites.

The principle aim of EM 385-1-1 USACE Safety & Health is to ensure the safest working site for all workers. Initial non-compliance is met with rejection of bid, while hefty fines apply on any subsequent non-compliance.

The principle aim of EM 385-1-1 USACE Safety & Health is to ensure the safest working site for all workers. Click To Tweet

Temporary Facilities Guide

Section 04.A

Section 4 of the EM-385 guide deals with planning and layouts of Temporary Facilities Guide. As per Section 04.A.01, layout for temporary facilities, buildings, fencing, access routes, and anchoring systems for temporary structures are subject to approval by Global Development Alliances (GDA).

Section 04.A.02

Temporary Structures.

The design and construction of temporary structures shall be done considering the following loadings.

  1. Dead and live loads;
  2. Soil and Hydrostatic Pressures;
  3. Wind loads;
  4. Rain and snow loads;
  5. Flood and ice loads;
  6. Seismic forces.

Section 04.0.03

Anchorage Systems for Temporary Structures.

Temporary structures used as personnel housing, field offices or storage – such as trailers – shall be anchored with rods and cables or steel straps to ground anchors. The designed anchor system must meet applicable state or local laws for mobile trailer homes and be able to withstand winds.

Section 04.0.04

Fencing and Warning Signs

  1. Temporary project fencing is to be provided on all areas accessible and in use by the public. Areas that are in close proximity to family households and schools are included, and should be adequately fenced. A substitute to fencing can be used as long as accepted by GDA.
  2. Fencing grade shall extend to a minimum of 4 ft. (1.2 m) above grade. Maximum mesh size allowable is 2 in (5 cm). Additionally, fencing shall remain taut. A minimum 200lbs (.9kN) of force should be exerted on the fence from any direction allowing for deflection less than 4 in (10cm).
  3. Warning signs prohibiting space access to unauthorized persons and presence of construction hazards are to be posted on the fencing. At minimum, the signs should be posted at every 150 ft (45.7m). Projects with less than 150 ft of fencing require at least one warning sign.
  4. GDA, upon inspection of the nature and location of the project, may remove fencing as a requirement. This inspection consists of a risk analysis of public exposure and other specific considerations. In such locations where fencing is not required, clearly visible construction hazard signs will be posted.

Section 04.A.05

Temporary Work Camps

The design and construction for work camps for labor shall account for the following:

  1. All temporary working sites should have proper drainage systems in place. The sites should not be subject to periodic flooding and not located within 200 ft (61 m) of swamps, pools, sink holes, or any other surface collection of water unless proper mosquito control methods have been implemented.
  2. Temporary sites should be designed to prevent overcrowding of necessary structures.
  3. The surrounding areas should remain free of garbage, waste, rubbish or other debris.
  4. Shelters shall adequately protect from natural elements. Shelters should consist of at least 55 square feet of floor space and 7 ft 6 in (2.3 m) in ceiling height for each occupant.
  5. Suitable sleeping and storage facilities shall be provided to each occupant. For example: beds, cots, and bunkers for sleeping purposes, and wall lockers for personal articles. Beds shall be spaced at a minimum 3 ft (1 m) and elevated by at least 1 m (.3 mm). Bunks are advised to be spaced at least 4 ft (1.2 m) and contain a minimum of 27 in (68.5 cm) between the upper and lower bunk.
  6. Floor should only be made of asphalt, concrete, or wood. Floors should be kept in good condition. All wooden floors must allow for 1.5ft (.5 m) rise to allow air circulation and prevent dampness.
  7. Living quarters should provide ample ventilation and be maintained in a clean and safe condition.

Section 04.A.06


Unless otherwise indicated, all lumber dimensions given in this manual are of nominal sizes.

Section 04.A.07

Temporary Explosives Storage Areas

Temporary Explosive Storage Areas shall comply with EM 385-1-97 – Explosives Safety and Health Requirements

Access and Haul Roads

Section 04.B

Section 04.B.01 The contractor shall provide the GDA with a copy of the access road plan prior to construction. The project cannot commence without the GDA approved access road plan.

The plan will consist of road dimensions, traffic usage and control devices, and points of contact between vehicles and the public, drainage controls etc.

Section 04.B.02

No vehicle or equipment shall take the road unless the road is constructed/maintained properly.

Section 04.B.03

Roads above working levels should have berms, barricades, and curbs to prevent vehicles from running over the edge. Berms should be one half the diameter of the tires of the largest vehicle using the access road.

Section 04.B.04

Access roads should have proper drainage systems, crowns and ditches. Water shall be led off before reaching a large fill or switchback.

Section 04.B.05

Access road width shall be suitable and accepted by the GDA.

Section 04.B.06

Maximum speed limits should be posted throughout the roads.

Section 04.B.09


The curves shall accommodate for vehicle size and the permitted speed (which should allow half the distance visibility of the road).

Section 04.B.10


Access roads should be kept to less than 10% grade, not exceeding 400 ft. (121.9 m). The maximum allowable grade is 12% ppp.

Section 04.B.11

Adequate lightning should be provided

Section 04.B.12

Traffic lights, road markings, signs, etc., for safe traffic movement shall be in accordance with DOT Federal Highway’s manual.

Section 04.B.13

Safety of the road should be preserved through roadway hardness/smoothness and dirt control.

Section 04.B.14

All roads should eliminate dust, ice, and similar hazards.

Section 04.B.15

Deposition of debris on public roads shall be minimized. Make sure your company and its workers are aware and updated with EM 385-1-1 USACE Safety & Health provisions so that you’ll always be in prime position to qualify for those lucrative military contracts.

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