Excavation Work: Managing and Reducing Risks

April 23, 2020

Excavation work is done to remove soil or rock from a site to make a shaft, trench, or tunnel. Excavation can also be done to fill, or partially fill a trench, tunnel, or shaft. Any excavation activities that are done in these areas are relatively considered as high-risk construction work, so it would be necessary for the management to manage and reduce risks as thoroughly as they can.

All the following processes involved in managing and reducing risks must be carried out by authorised people accordingly.

Identifying Possible Hazards

Any potential hazards that can be associated with excavation work must be identified fully. The identification of hazards must be done through physical inspections, worker engagement, task analysis, process analysis, hazard and operability analysis, and accident investigation analysis.

Excavation specific hazards most likely include fall or dislodgement of rocks, falling objects, inappropriate placement of excavated materials, instability of any surrounding structures, previous disturbances of the ground, possible inrush of water or any liquid, presence of hazardous chemicals and atmosphere, and presence of overhead, ground-mounted, or underground essential services like gas, water, electricity, and others.

Assessing the Identified Risks

No matter what risks are identified, the management should assess them according to certain factors. The risk assessment will mostly depend on local site conditions, excavation depth, soil properties, fractures or faults in rocks, any specialised plant or work methods required, methods of transport, haul routes, and disposal, the occurrence of noise, ultraviolet rays, or hazardous chemicals, number of people involved, local weather conditions, and the duration that the excavation will be open.

The assessment of identified risks can help identify which workers are at risk of falling into an excavation, being trapped by the excavation collapse, being struck by a falling object, and being exposed to an airborne contaminant. The same assessment will also determine what possible sources and processes can trigger the risk and hazards, establish the appropriate control measures, and check the effectiveness of the existing control measures.

Implementing Safety Controls

Once the risks are identified and assessed, the management should decide on what safety controls must be implemented. In choosing suitable control measures, the authorised people must consider the excavating plant, stockpiling arrangements, material placement, dewatering equipment, and the transport of the excavated material.

Eliminating the risk is deemed as the most effective control. However, ff elimination is not possible, you can still minimise the risk by combining control measures. Substitution entails the use of other alternative equipment or method in conducting a specific task. Isolation can also be done to separate pedestrians from the site or reduce any risk of collision. Lastly, engineering controls such as benching, battering, or shoring the sides of the excavation can ultimately reduce the risk of ground collapse.

Administrative controls like installing warning signs near the excavation can also be done to minimise accidents. Wearing suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) on-site can also minimise injuries and health hazards on the excavation site.

Reviewing and Revising Controls

All implemented safety controls must be reviewed regularly. The controls are usually revised when the control is not effective in controlling the risks when there are workplace changes, when a new hazard is identified, and when an additional review is being required by consultants or health and safety representative.

Some review methods that must be done include workplace inspections, professional consultations, testing, and analysis of records and data.

With risk assessment, your excavation works can be done safely and properly. To know more about the right excavation practices, just contact us at Metro Pits. At Metro Pits, we aim to get the job done promptly, efficiently, and safely. We also make sure that we meet the necessary safety requirements within a high-risk environment.

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