Why is Excavation and Trench Safety Important?
Excavation and trenching are amongst the most dangerous operations in the construction industry. Dangers can include cave-ins, falling loads, hazardous atmospheres and hazards from using heavy equipment. Regular pre-work inspections can reduce hazards and serious risk of injury. Safety inspections should check for the type of excavation being conducted, support and warning systems in place, access areas, weather conditions, heavy equipment and PPE.
To protect workers from injuries and fatalities, preventive measures should be implemented when workers begin excavating. According to OSHA, general safety measures to follow should cover the following:
- Inspect trenches daily before work begins. Don’t go near an unprotected trench.
- Check weather conditions before work, be mindful of rain and storms.
- Keep heavy equipment away from trench edges.
- Be mindful of the location of utilities underground.
- Always wear proper protective equipment.
- Don’t work beneath raised loads.
- Conduct atmosphere tests. If low oxygen and toxic gases were detected, workers must not enter the trench.
- Protective systems like benching, sloping, shoring and shielding must be created.
- Planning and implementation of safety measures must be done by a competent person.
- Use a checklist to perform regular self inspections – download free excavation safety checklists here.
• OSHA Trenching and Excavation Safety